Auto shops, metal dealers oppose catalytic converter bill

Auto shops and metal recycling centers are fighting legislation in Missouri that would add vetting processes for anyone who sells catalytic converters.

Under a House-passed bill, auto shops, scrap metal dealers and others regulated by the state would need to have proof they run real repair shops and sign an affidavit that each converter that has been sold to them was lawfully acquired.

Lobbyist Shannon Cooper, representing Advantage Metals Recycling, told the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee on Tuesday the bill targets and threatens small businesses.

"Basically, all this does, is make it more difficult for legitimate businesses to operate," Cooper said. "We have seven photos of you by the time you leave any one of our shops."

"We have identity of the vehicle you are in, your license plate, we have a photo of you, we have a photo of the materials that you are selling us, we have a photograph of your driver's license, and now you want to add subjective language that our employees ought to know whether a person is a crook just because he pulls up with two catalytic converters? You want us to now report information whether if it is truthful or not and is meaningless when helping law enforcement?"

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Don Mayhew, R-Crocker, testified before the committee, saying stolen catalytic converters have become a statewide problem.

"In or around 2018, there was a significant increase in the value for the constituent parts of catalytic converters, and it seemed to be an easy pickup for people who steal them," Mayhew said. "Almost all of these folks, at least in my county, are also involved in the drug trade in some form or another."

Mayhew cited multiple reports of stolen converters across the state, especially in communities such as Springfield and Lee's Summit. His House Bill 2574 seeks to strengthen an existing law that is ineffective when it comes to charging people for stealing converters.

Cooper said the proposed legislation would result in shops not taking converters, because of the additional work the shops would have to do. Cooper also said with shops not taking converters, it would significantly limit what shops could do to support local law enforcement in investigations.

"We work on a daily basis to help law enforcement. Our records are always open every day. We take pride in the fact that we have good records that law enforcement can access," Cooper said. "There was a sting operation in (the) Sedalia area last year, and our facility provided catalytic converters to assist police in their operation."

Brandon Koch from the Missouri Insurance Coalition testified in support of Mayhew's bill. Koch said stolen converters are a huge issue for insurance companies from a claims perspective.

"The damage that is done to the part and to the vehicle, the rental expenses, the inconvenience ... It is a growing problem and any steps that can be taken to stop this from happening in the state, we are in support of," Koch said.

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers.

HB 2574: Catalytic converter regulations

Sponsor: Rep. Don Mayhew