StarNews - Indiana Panhandling measure heading to full council.htm

H. C. Covington -- I CAN America (icanamerica@email.msn.com)
Sat, 19 Jun 1999 10:49:56 -0500


StarNews.com : Panhandling measure heading to full councilFound in the news:
**************
 Panhandling measure heading to full council
 By Doug Sword at Indianapolis Star/News
**************
INDIANAPOLIS (June 16, 1999) -- A plan to prohibit aggressive panhandling on
Indianapolis streets passed a City-County Council committee Wednesday, but
without a provision that bans begging from drivers of parked or stopped cars.
The proposed law's sponsor, Republican Councilwoman Marilyn Moores, urged the
Public Safety Committee to keep the provision because of people's fears of
carjacking.

But concerns that the ban would hinder fire departments and their "Fill the
Boot" charity drives led committee members to temporarily strike that language
from the bill.

The three council members who forced the deletion of the car language said they
would support it if their township fire departments have no objections.

The bill now is ready for a vote by the full council at its Monday meeting.
The proposal still contains a prohibition against panhandling within 20 feet of
automatic teller machines, at bus stops and after dark.

But Moores, in response to criticisms that the new law could be arbitrarily
enforced, asked the committee to get rid of a provision that made it illegal for
panhandlers to come within 3 feet of those they ask for money. Now the proposed
law prohibits panhandlers from touching the person they're soliciting without
consent.

The law against aggressive panhandling was applauded by many, including a police
officer who walks a Downtown beat.
"They just basically drive people nuts and scare some women," said Officer Doug
Sweeney.

Most of the aggressive panhandlers Downtown have been arrested for other crimes,
such as public intoxication, Sweeney said.
Supporters of the proposed legislation say it's needed because the city's
24-year-old panhandling ordinance is out of date and largely unenforceable.

The current law is a ban on all begging, which flies in the face of court decisi
ons that have found begging to be a constitutionally protected form of free
speech.

Despite that protection, many cities have enacted laws that ban aggressive
panhandling; those laws have withstood court challenges.

"This is not about sanitizing any part of the community," said Marion County
Prosecutor Scott Newman, who described the city's current law as "completely
unworkable."

Dan Shepley of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention said
he hopes to work with police so that panhandlers who need a meal or shelter can
be directed to social service groups.


 1999 Indianapolis Newspapers Inc. AP materials  1999 Associated Press. All
rights reserved.