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."
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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