Alabama Outlaws Panhandling And Loitering

( – Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey recently signed into law a bill that allows begging for money on state highways and roads, predictably raising the ire of those who describe themselves as advocates for the homeless.

The new law makes panhandling or loitering on state-controlled roads a misdemeanor. First-time offenders would apparently receive a citation, but “frequent flyers” who repeat the behavior will face increasing punishments up to fines or time in jail.

Bill proponents say the law is necessary for public safety, while detractors say it’s a backdoor way to make homelessness illegal.

Republican state Rep. Reed Ingram compared the new law to the way seatbelt laws are treated by police. Cops can ask a loitering or panhandling person to leave, and if they don’t, only then do fines and citations come in, he said.

Ingram said more than 800 people were killed on Alabama roads in 2021, and this law will protect both panhandlers on the side of the road, and the motorists in danger of hitting them.

He said the law’s purpose was not to punish homeless people but to protect life and safety both for them and for drivers.

Ronda Walker, Montgomery County Commissioner, backs the new law. She noted that it has a provision that allows police to take loiterers or panhandlers to “crisis centers” to get help. The law gives police the ability to more aggressively help the homeless while simultaneously protecting everyone else, she said.

In recent years most American cities have seen a remarkable increase in the homeless population. In liberal and leftist-governed cities, apparent skittishness about being perceived as unsympathetic to the homeless has led to city governments like San Francisco allowing tent encampments on sidewalks. Citizens complain they have to dodge hypodermic needles and human feces just to get to work in the city.

The state capital, Montgomery, has only one homeless shelter, and its director says it needs more funding because the shelter is at capacity.

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