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Ban on public street panhandling and donations moves forward in legislature [Video]

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) – State lawmakers are debating a bill which would criminalize panhandling and giving panhandlers donations on public streets.

A Senate judiciary committee advanced HB97 filed by Rep. Dixon McMakin (R-Baton Rouge) Tuesday (4/23) without a vote in opposition.

It adds “public right-of-ways” to existing law which already criminalizes panhandling on highways. Right of ways include sidewalks, streets, and the neutral ground.

McMakin has argued the bill is designed to improve safety on the roadways.

“If [a panhandler] wanted to do that, he could go to a shopping center, a grocery store, a food service place to do that, and that would still not be part of this crime,” he said during an April 16 committee hearing.

The existing law creates a penalty of a $200 fine and/or up to six months in prison. The bill does not update the language to include the public right-of-ways, but McMakin confirmed the bill’s goal is …

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