Duggan called on attendees to support House Bill 4593, which has been winding its way through the Michigan Legislature; voting is expected in coming weeks. Duggan urged them to call any senators or representatives they know and explain why the legislation is important to the future of Detroit.

“We have to deal with the issue of the unsavory scrap metal dealers in the city of Detroit,” he said.

“The businesses in this town are having to fence in their rooftop air handling units because they are being brazenly stolen,” he added. “It costs twice as much to open here than the suburbs because of the insurance.”

The legislation would expand the regulations for recycling metals and create a better paper trail to help law enforcement track thieves, identify stolen goods and track sellers who are operating outside the law.

In particular, it would change the way scrappers get paid and stop immediate transactions for cash. If they try to turn in a catalytic convertor, air-handling units or copper wire, Duggan said, the yard operator would have to mail them a check or require that the seller return in three days to receive payment.

The legislation would also require the scrap facilities to take a clear photograph of the sellers.

The bill has been hotly contested in Lansing, as scrap yards fight against regulations they say would be onerous. But Duggan didn’t see that as a problem: “We have a number of very fine and reputable scrap yards, but you have some that are not.” (from Crain’s Detroit Business, 2/25/2014)