Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have outlawed "aggressive solicitation," also known as panhandling.
Arizona's old anti-begging statute was found unconstitutional in federal court last fall, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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The ACLU filed the lawsuit after 135 arrests in one year for "loitering to beg," including the arrest of a disabled 4-foot-8, 77-year-old woman asking an undercover cop for $1.25 to cover a bus fare.
Lawyers argued that the law, which stated that "[a] person commits loitering if such person intentionally [i]s present in a public place to beg, unless specifically authorized by law," was a First Amendment violation. The Attorney General's office conceded the point.
Therefore, Republican Representative John Kavanagh and other lawmakers went at replacing the anti-begging statute this legislative session. The bill, House Bill 2024, would have outlawed soliciting money within 15 feet of an ATM, 10 feet of a bus stop, or soliciting money at all using any of the "aggressive" techniques outlined, like being "reasonably likely to intimidate the person being solicited into responding affirmatively to the solicitation."
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But Brewer vetoed the new proposal.
According to the ACLU, other laws similar to the unconstitutional state law have been struck down by state and federal courts, including a Phoenix city ordinance.
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