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Barbour vetoes metal theft bill

Gov. Haley Barbour has vetoed bills to increase the number of local prosecutors and investigators and to toughen penalties for metal theft.

Lawmakers had approved a bill to create 14 more assistant district attorneys and seven criminal investigators around the state.

In his veto message Monday, Barbour said lawmakers failed to provide the money to pay the new prosecutors and investigators.

Barbour said some of the posts have been funded with federal Hurricane Katrina funds.

House Judiciary A Committee chairman Ed Blackmon Jr., D-Canton, said prosecutors are being asked to handle hundreds of more cases without any additional help.

“We have to give them the resources they need. Crime has no budget,” Blackmon said.

Barbour also vetoed a bill to increase the penalties for metal theft, including copper. He said the bill “places an undue regulatory burden on the metal recycling industry, including many small businesses in Mississippi.”

He said he supports harsher penalties but the bill went so far as to require metal buyers to record the seller’s name, age and address, as well as thumbprint. Thumbprints must be maintained for three years after the date of the sale. The buyer must tag and hold the item for several days before adding it to other inventory.

The legislation would have required recyclers to maintain records of who is selling and purchasing metal.

The bills are Senate Bill 2751 and House Bill 1136.