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House votes to outlaw ‘aggressive’ begging


begging-620The Arizona House of Representatives on March 5 approved a bill that would place restrictions on where people can ask for spare change, and outlaw “aggressive panhandling.”

After a federal court last year struck down Arizona’s anti-panhandling statute as unconstitutional, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills decided to craft a new law that he hopes will stand up to legal scrutiny.

Kavanagh’s HB2024, which was approved by the House on a party-line vote and now heads to the Senate, would make it a crime for a person to solicit money or sell goods or services within 15 feet of a bank entrance or ATM, in any public transportation or within 10 feet of a bus stop, or if the solicitor makes physical contact or causes the person being solicited to have a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm.

The bill also gets rid of the current law which states it is loitering to be in a public place with the intent to beg.

Flagstaff had been aggressively enforcing the state panhandling law until the American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit against the city and got the ban struck down.

During the vote on the bill, Kavanagh quipped that he was going to explain his vote, but didn’t want to be accused of aggressive solicitation.

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