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Government Relations & Public Policy

Lawmakers in Five States Enact ORC Legislation

May 10, 2024

Last month, five states scored major victories in bringing legislation to protect communities from organized retail crime (ORC) across the finish line. Lawmakers in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and New York enacted eight bills with a range of solutions from expanding the amount of time prosecutors can combine thefts committed across jurisdictions to allocating funding for investigating organized retail theft cases and stiffening penalties for thieves. 

This year, a total of 10 bills in six states plus D.C. were enacted. As more state legislatures prepare to adjourn there are still 89 pieces of ORC prevention legislation active in 22 states. (California alone has 25 bills awaiting action this session.)

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) followed through in her “declaration of war” against shoplifters by working with the business and retail community to have key ORC prevention measures in the state’s budget (SB 8305/AB 8805 and AB 8809/SB 8309).

The highlights of the package include $40.2 million to create an ORC Task Force, a $3,000 tax credit to help store owners invest in theft prevention measures and rules to allow prosecutors to combine the value of stolen goods when filing theft charges. The budget package also provided protections for store employees by making the charge of assaulting a retail worker a felony offense. 

Passage of the legislation makes New York the fourteenth state to have a statewide ORC Task Force. ORC Task Forces have played a critical role over the past few years in coordinating activity among state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and retailers to bring down retail crime networks operating across jurisdictions.

Arizona lawmakers enacted legislation (AZ SB 1411) this year to create a new ORC Task Force under Attorney General Kris Mayes’ (D) administration. Arizona currently has a task force that was created through legislation (AZ HB 2383) in 2021 under the previous administration. Lawmakers in Columbus are still considering two bills (OH HB 366 and OH SB 223) that would create a statewide task force for Ohio.

This year, state lawmakers have also taken a more aggressive approach to bills allowing multiple thefts to be counted towards tougher sentences. Typically, theft aggregation laws have allowed prosecutors to charge thieves with the total value stolen across a 60- or 90-day period.

Three states have significantly expanded this window to allow law enforcement to target more sophisticated criminal networks. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) recently signed legislation (IA HF 2594) that allows multiple thefts over a six-month period to count as an organized retail theft offense. And lawmakers in Florida (FL HB 549) and Kansas (KS HB 2144) enacted legislation that would allow thefts to be aggregated over a 12-month period. Similar legislation in Oklahoma (OK SB 1450) passed both legislative chambers and now awaits the Governor’s signature.