(INDIANAPOLIS) – The House votes next week on a bill that would essentially outlaw panhandling in downtown Indianapolis.
State law already bans panhandling within 20 feet of a bank or ATM. A House committee voted unanimously to increase that buffer zone to 50 feet, and expand it to cover any business, monument,or financial saction — including parking meters.
The bill doesn’t mention Indianapolis specifically, but House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says legislators have been discussing for a while how to address a panhandling situation he says has become intolerable. Bosma claims he’s had “three or four” conversations with out-of-state conference attendees who vowed never to return to Indianapolis because of panhandling encounters. He charges the City-County Council has been “unable or unwilling” to address the issue.
While Bosma says the proposal is modeled on other states, the American Civil Liberties Union contends the proposal is unconstitutional. The organization says it didn’t know the amendment was coming until after it popped up in a Thursday committee hearing. The ACLU contends it’s an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says he hasn’t reviewed the amendment yet, but says panhandling in Indy is “a growing problem and a complicated fix.”
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