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Erie County lawmakers rescind law regulating second-hand jewelry sales

After a strong pushback by local pawn shop and jewelry store owners, the Erie County Legislature Thursday voted to recall a local law regulating second-hand jewelry sales.

The law, which was crafted with the help of local law enforcement and adopted unanimously by the Legislature a month ago, imposed a 14-day restriction on the resale of second-hand jewelry purchased by coin brokers, jewelry stores and pawn shops. It also required those businesses to upload identifying information for each item they bought – including photographs, serial numbers and the name and image of the seller – onto a database accessible to law enforcement.

The law’s objective was to aid police in recovering stolen items that wind up getting sold to pawn shops and melted down. However, soon after the law was adopted, local dealers in the second-hand jewelry business complained that it had been drafted without their input. They also argued that the measure was vague, imposed cumbersome rules and would be perceived as overly intrusive by their customers.

After meeting with some of the business owners, the laws’s main sponsor, Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo, agreed that it needed to be rewritten.

“Since that law was passed, there have been a number of issues brought to our attention by members of the second-hand jewelry community, as well as law enforcement,” Lorigo said Thursday.

More than two dozen pawn shop and jewelry store owners showed up for an April 13 public hearing on the law held by County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. Since then, Poloncarz has not taken any action on the law, which is required under the charter before it could go into effect.

In a bipartisan move, Lorigo said he and Legislator Lynne M. Dixon – both members of the Legislature’s Republican-aligned majority – and Democratic Legislator Peter J. Savage III have since had further meetings with members of the local second-hand jewelry community to discuss their concerns.

“What we’re doing now is recalling the law so we can work out those kinks, work out those issues so the law is more business-friendly and one that those on both sides of the issue can support,” Lorigo said.

Once the new law is crafted, it will have to be re-introduced to the Legislature and another public hearing will have to be held by lawmakers before they can vote on it.