Arizona lawmakers are again attempting to clamp down on panhandling.
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. Republican Senator John Kavanagh, the sponsor of both of the previous anti-panhandling bill, is back with another bill to outlaw "aggresive" panhandling.
Kavanagh explained to a Senate committee last month that the bill is aimed at people "who go past, 'Hey mister, can I have a dime.'"
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.
Kavanagh and his fellow lawmakers came back last year with a bill aimed at outlawing only "aggressive" panhandling. The bill would have made it a misdemeanor offense to ask for money near an ATM or bank, near a bus stop, or anywhere in public if a person "fear[s] imminent bodily harm." Kavanagh described it as anything "above civility." Lawmakers passed that bill, but it was vetoed by Brewer.
This year's bill, Senate Bill 1094, was passed yesterday by the Senate on a 19-10 vote, and there was no discussion on the bill among lawmakers during the vote.
This edition of the bill is very much the same as last year's but makes violations of the law a petty offense instead of misdemeanor.
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 bill still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to Governor Ducey's desk.
Read the exact text of the proposal 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 OF THE BANK OR THE PROPRIETOR OF THE AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE TO BE THERE. 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.Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.