Anti-copper-theft bill one vote from becoming law

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- A South Carolina bill banning cash payments for copper appears one vote away from Gov. Nikki Haley's desk.

The House voted Thursday to end cash sales for copper, and to require both seller and recycler to obtain permits from local law enforcement. The amended bill returns to the Senate.

Legislators are trying to stem the growing problem of copper thefts from air conditioning units and farm irrigation systems.

Robert Bedell of Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company says his company processed $1.2 million in insurance claims last year due to copper thefts at churches.

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The recycling industry wanted to continue paying cash for amounts under $200. But House Minority Leader Harry Ott argued most thieves are bringing in small amounts of copper worth $50 or less to support a drug habit.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has said the copper theft problem is the crime his department deals with the most.

What do you think about the bill? Is it enough to curb a copper theft epidemic or does it violate individual's rights? Leave your comments below to weigh in.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)