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Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill outlawing aggressive panhandling

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Gov. Doug Ducey signed two bills Wednesday that prevent aggressive panhandling.

Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the bills are an attempt to limit fear and apprehension surrounding panhandling.

“These are the little incivilities that drive the middle class out of our cities and make them ghettos,” Kavanagh said during a committee hearing.

House Bill 1063 makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor to intentionally push a button at a crosswalk for the purpose of stopping traffic and asking for money.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake overturned an Arizona law that criminalized panhandling in public. Wake ruled the statute unconstitutional because it violated free speech rights.

Kavanagh said he doesn’t want to outlaw panhandling.

“All this bill says is that somebody who wants to panhandle, or sell something commercially, at an intersection with a red light, can’t steal your time,” he said.

House Bill 1094 criminalizes aggressive solicitation such as begging near an ATM, repeatedly asking for money or touching someone while panhandling.

Opponents said that instead of criminalizing panhandling, government should do more to help homeless men and women get education, mental health treatment and jobs.

“Instead what we end up doing far too many times is we try to push these people further into the shadows, further out of our line of sight so we don’t have to deal with these issues,” said Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix.

Former-Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed similar legislation last year. Brewer questioned what statewide concern the bill was trying to address and called it an issue of local control.

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4 comments

  1. Does this mean that politicians like Kavanaugh and Ducey have to knock off their relentless, obnoxious begging every election season, too? Because those are the “aggressive panhandlers” who REALLY piss me off, not the people begging for spare change on the side of the road in 120 degree heat. Those guys call you on the phone, stop you at the grocery store, hit you up at work, and even come up to your front door – and there’s no shaking them! They seem to think that the public they seek to serve has nothing better to do with our money than support their bad habits – then they sell themselves to the highest bidders on the private market behind our backs! That seems like a far greater crime than what the state’s most poor have been accused of, here.

  2. Being a mental health provider, and having clients who panhandle for items that we, as mental health providers, do not buy for them due to the adverse mental health effects these items pose for the client. These clients, for the most part, manage their own money which they receive from the government in the form of Social Security Disability, albeit inappropriately. The issue is that the majority of the homeless receive Social Security Disability, however, there are some individuals who are homeless that do not receive any type of aid. There are many residential homes for the mentally disabled, however, the system currently in place is not only inadequate, but ineffective, and sometimes adverse to healing of the clients they are seeking to help. I been a student of psychology for the better part of my life, both on a personal level and educational level. I have my degree in Psychology, but have spent the better part of my career in business ownership, management, training, and counseling, but was appalled at the poor level of service provided to these individuals.

    The major causes for this poor level of service stem from the low pay these Behavioral Health Professionals receive. I wanted to get into the trenches, so to speak, and understood that I would be taking a drastic pay cut, but was economically prepared for such a low wage. Most individuals who provide these services are barely scraping by, and do not have the education, understanding of mental health disorders, or how to counsel the clients they serve. These service providers chose this position due to the high turnover rate makes it an easy position to acquire. I know my interview and application for this position was a joke, I can only speculate as to how other interviews went. The majority of Behavioral Health Professionals barely make over minimum wage.

    The other significant deterrent to providing these clients with adequate mental health service is due to the policy of “natural consequences”. While I am a big proponent of “natural consequences” for child rearing, it is not appropriate for those suffering from mental health disorders. The biggest reason that “natural consequences” does not work is due to the inability to enforce “natural consequences”. As an example, if it is the client’s turn to cook and the client refuses it is the responsibility to ensure that the client has that meal. It it were you or I, we would go hungry if we did not provide our self with sustenance, as this is a “natural consequence”. This may sound like a small thing, but when it comes to things such as a client having coffee after a certain time, it then effects their ability to wake to take their medication. However, the behavioral health specialist is not able to prevent the individual from obtaining, by whatever means necessary, including panhandling, or theft, or prevent them from consuming the coffee.

    What many people fail to understand about many of the homeless, and those suffering from mental health disorders, is that the inappropriate behaviors they present have become habitual. Breaking a habit is hard enough for those of us without financial issues or mental health issues, but it is even harder for them, and the cards are stacked against them. We all use support systems, whether they be friends, coworkers, or family, however, these individuals do not have the vast array to chose from that we do. Thus, unless they are able to secure a placement at a facility to assist them, the cycle continues and becomes more ingrained and detrimental.

    Yet, even if they obtain placement, the prognosis for recovery and reintegration is dire. I am old enough to remember the mental health asylums, and their dismantlement. While I understand and abhor the treatment these facilities provided, we didn’t learn anything from our mistakes. Sure, abuse of the mentally ill has decreased, but recovery and reintegration did not increase. We, the law makers, the health services community, the psychologist and psychiatrist, the doctors, the business community, and the general public need to figure out a better way, or the number of homeless is going to continue to grow out of control. In closing, as the system is now, I pray that no one in your support group, or yourself ever need mental health services as these individuals do.

  3. I want to address a few different things here. The biggest being “choice and accountability.” Although I believe some pan handlers are homeless, some are not. Some pan handlers are not mentally ill by definition and are making quite a bit of money pan handling as their job. Although they are within their legal right to do so at this date, I do not feel that this part of pan handling is not accurately being addressed. These are people who do not have a conscience about asking mothers, fathers, hard working individuals for money that they themselves do not want to work for. They have no integrity. An individual without integrity does not equate to being mentally ill. So the thought of pouring more and more money into the rehabilitation, and benefits of these individuals actually is an insult to the communities that are already being seriously affected by them. There are some who are walking that fine line of aggressive panhandling, who know the laws very well as to intimidate the public using techniques of staring them in the eyes, standing on the curb by car windows, walking past them, taking up active public street corners without consequence. Since they are actively engaged in the act of asking for money, somehow this does not count as loitering. Since they are not physically touching someone, this only falls under the act of free speech. Some can be very intimidating and more than just a nuisance to our productive society members. They can deter customers from business by this practice simply because people don’t want to be harassed even a little. I am not one who wants to create a law that will have to have another law in order to enforce it that will have to be amended to protect the first law, who will have to be outlawed all over again because it did more harm than good. I also do not believe we should be giving benefits to individuals just because they never figured out how to function in society. If they were not born with a disability and their lifestyle choices were not the cause then I can see giving aid. We all have had to deal with issues, and tough times in our life. It is about how we choose to handle those tough times and the choices we make that will define our day to day “habits,” as Virginia spoke on. Where is the accountability or even the motivation for people to make good choices if we allow them to live a comfortable life on welfare, disability, free healthcare, free housing, free counseling, free this, free anything? For myself, my motivation is my pride, my integrity, my responsibility and desire not to be homeless and hungry. Not all people have that conscience, and panhandling is a perfect way for them to PREY on kind and giving people. They are preying on those with a conscience and integrity and this is something I am not willing to give more to. I myself have given my last $20 to a young man in his twenties claiming he had made a bad choice and needed bus fare home. I later saw him buying alcohol and he never left the community. I have many young children at home and although they had what they needed, I still could have used that last $20 for my children. I was duped by a really good pan handler, legally. I have a few more stories that would demonstrate my point, but by now, whomever is reading this has an understanding of the point. I feel bad that people have made choices that have caused them addiction and drug abuse. I feel bad that those addictions may have caused them to lose their support system along the way as friends and family members are often mistreated, taken advantage and stolen from. But these are the consequences. The consequences are not good, but if we continously try to save a population that will not help themselves you are giving them more money from the hardworking citizens that are trying each day to make good, tough, and often times difficult mental and physically demanding choices in order to thrive. It is not as if being a productive member of society is just simple and easy for everyone to do. It would be easy for me to be irresponsible, live in a tent, sit on a corner and ask for money, use that to buy my food each day instead of what I did do. What I did do was attend grade school even when I didn’t want to. I worked to pay for college which was really hard mentally and physically. Then I actually attended college while working which was incredibly difficult. I then had to seek employment, have the discipline to act appropriately and constantly be aware of my actions. I too have to suffer the consequences of my choices and actions, but I have been held accountable in my life. I was not handed things when I did not earn them. I do believe there are some who are born mentally ill, but the majority of the people on the street are there because they alone put themselves there.

  4. Corrections to my post as I had a hard time reading it in the tiny screen provided.

    1. “I do not feel that this part of pan handling is accurately being addressed.”
    2. “If they were born with a disability and their lifestyle choices were not the cause, then I can see giving aid.”
    3.

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