89.1 WEMU

Michigan House Panel To Vote On 'Aggressive Panhandling' Ban

May 24, 2016

Panhandler Sitting on the Street
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

A state House committee could vote today on a bill to create a crime of “aggressive panhandling.”  The bill would replace state and local anti-begging laws that have been struck down as violations of free speech rights. 


The legislation would forbid begging for money near banks and ATMs.  It would also forbid threatening or offensive language and gestures.  And it would require a panhandler to stop if someone says the panhandling is not welcome.  State Representative Mike McCready says he’d like to see more restrictions on panhandling. 

“The best help we can be is to send money to the shelters or rehab centers that these people have a tendency to need, versus handing them money."

“There’s really no need to pick on poor people by making up a special crime that just applies to them.”  

ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin says it’s unconstitutional to targets one type of speech.  He says there are already laws against harassment and threatening behavior. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org