Arizona Lawmakers Pass Bill to Crack Down on Panhandling
UPDATE April 2: Governor Ducey has signed this bill into law.
Arizona lawmakers have again attempted to crack down on panhandling in the state.
The state's anti-panhandling law passed in 2013 was struck down in the courts, while former Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a toned-down version of the law last year. Lawmakers this year have passed another proposal, intent on outlawing "aggressive" panhandling.
Republican Senator John Kavanagh, the bill's sponsor, explained to a Senate committee last month that the bill is aimed at people "who go past, 'Hey mister, can I have a dime.'"
No lawmakers in the House of Senate debated the bill, Senate Bill 1094, while it was up for final votes this week. It passed the House on a 33-24 vote, and Senate on an 18-10 vote.
The 2013 law was an outright attempt to ban panhandling in the state, specifically outlawing being "present in a public place to beg, unless specifically authorized by law."
A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union followed, claiming this criminalized free speech. The Arizona Attorney General's Office didn't put up much of a fight, and a federal judge put the kibosh on that law.
This new proposal, which only needs Governor Doug Ducey's signature to become law, only bans panhandling in a few select scenarios. For one, it prevents asking for money within 15 feet of a bank or ATM without the property owner's permission. Then, it would ban any panhandling in public that involves things like "following the person being solicited in a manner that is intended or likely to cause a reasonable person to fear imminent bodily harm," or "obstructing the safe or free passage of the person being solicited."
This edition of the bill is very similar to last year's but makes violations of the law a petty offense instead of misdemeanor.
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Kavanagh said last month that the change was due to concerns from advocates for the homeless, who told him a misdemeanor conviction could hurt a homeless person's chance of getting an apartment down the road.
The exact language of the bill can be found below:
13-2914. Aggressive solicitation; classification; definitions A. IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON TO SOLICIT ANY MONEY OR OTHER THING OF VALUE OR SOLICIT THE SALE OF GOODS OR SERVICES: 1. WITHIN FIFTEEN FEET OF ANY BANK ENTRANCE OR EXIT OR ANY AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE IF THE PERSON DOES NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO BE THERE FROM THE BANK OR THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY ON WHICH THE AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE IS LOCATED. 2. IN A PUBLIC AREA BY: (a) INTENTIONALLY, KNOWINGLY OR RECKLESSLY MAKING ANY PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH OR TOUCHING ANOTHER PERSON IN THE COURSE OF THE SOLICITATION WITHOUT THE PERSON'S CONSENT. (b) APPROACHING OR FOLLOWING THE PERSON BEING SOLICITED IN A MANNER THAT IS INTENDED OR IS LIKELY TO CAUSE A REASONABLE PERSON TO FEAR IMMINENT BODILY HARM TO ONESELF OR ANOTHER OR DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF PROPERTY OR THAT IS REASONABLY LIKELY TO INTIMIDATE THE PERSON BEING SOLICITED INTO RESPONDING AFFIRMATIVELY TO THE SOLICITATION. (c) CONTINUING TO SOLICIT THE PERSON AFTER THE PERSON BEING SOLICITED HAS CLEARLY COMMUNICATED A REQUEST THAT THE SOLICITATION STOP. (d) INTENTIONALLY, KNOWINGLY OR RECKLESSLY OBSTRUCTING THE SAFE OR FREE PASSAGE OF THE PERSON BEING SOLICITED OR REQUIRING THE PERSON TO TAKE EVASIVE ACTION TO AVOID PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH THE PERSON MAKING THE SOLICITATION. THIS SUBDIVISION DOES NOT APPLY TO ACTS THAT ARE AUTHORIZED AS AN EXERCISE OF ONE'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PICKET OR PROTEST. (e) INTENTIONALLY, KNOWINGLY OR RECKLESSLY USING OBSCENE OR ABUSIVE LANGUAGE OR GESTURES THAT ARE INTENDED OR LIKELY TO CAUSE A REASONABLE PERSON TO FEAR IMMINENT BODILY HARM OR THAT ARE REASONABLY LIKELY TO INTIMIDATE THE PERSON BEING SOLICITED INTO RESPONDING AFFIRMATIVELY TO THE SOLICITATION. B. A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION IS A PETTY OFFENSE. C. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION: 1. "AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE" HAS THE SAME MEANING PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 6‑101. 2. "BANK" MEANS A BANK, CREDIT UNION OR OTHER SIMILAR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION. 3. "PUBLIC AREA" MEANS AN AREA THAT THE PUBLIC OR A SUBSTANTIAL GROUP OF PERSONS HAS ACCESS TO AND INCLUDES ALLEYS, BRIDGES, BUILDINGS, DRIVEWAYS, PARKING LOTS, PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS, PLAZAS, SIDEWALKS AND STREETS OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, AND THE DOORWAYS AND ENTRANCES TO BUILDINGS AND DWELLINGS AND THE GROUNDS ENCLOSING THEM. 4. "SOLICIT" MEANS USING ANY MEANS OF COMMUNICATION, INCLUDING BY SPOKEN, WRITTEN OR PRINTED WORD, TO REQUEST AN IMMEDIATE DONATION OR EXCHANGE OF MONEY OR OTHER THING OF VALUE FROM ANOTHER PERSON REGARDLESS OF THE SOLICITOR'S PURPOSE OR INTENDED USE OF THE MONEY OR OTHER THING OF VALUE.
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