House members amended and sent back to the Senate Thursday a bill to deter copper thieves in a 79 to 34 vote.
The amended bill would ban recyclers from paying cash to people who sell them scrap copper, catalytic converters and beer kegs.
"There are the three items we are having the most problem with being stolen," said House Minority Leader Harry Ott, D-Calhoun, who introduced the amendment.
The bill would also require anyone selling scrap copper to get a free-of-charge permit from the local sheriff.
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House members were split on whether to ban cash sells. The Senate version of the bill would have banned all cash sales.
"It seems an unusual step to say, 'You can't buy something for cash in any case,'" said Rep. Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville.
Copper thieves have cost Midlands churches, businesses and residents millions of dollars by stealing copper from air conditioners.
Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, said the cash payment ban makes sense because, he said, many of the thieves are drug addicts who are looking for quick cash for a quick drug buy.
"(Thieves) have hit churches. They have hit homes. They have hit housing developments and taken literally millions of dollars out of these buildings. As a result, we are now at a crossroads. Are we going to stop this? I don't think it's too much to ask someone to write a check..."