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Mon Fee’s not-panhandling ordinance unlikely to work as meant

As we speak, the Pedestrian and Automobile Security Ordinance will as soon as once more be up for public remark and probably for passage on the Monongalia County Fee assembly. The present draft ordinance will be discovered at underneath the “county ordinance” hyperlink.

Also called the panhandling ordinance (as a result of that’s who the regulation targets), if handed, the ordinance would make it unlawful not solely to be within the median or different rights-of-way for a function apart from crossing the highway, it could additionally make it unlawful for anybody in a automobile handy one thing off — like cash — to somebody within the median.

The proposed regulation has undergone some modifications for the reason that first draft. Initially, a primary offense would have resulted in a quotation with an informative handout, and the penalties for subsequent offenses included fines from $100 to $1,000 and/or jail time. Within the newest draft, the penalties have been adjusted to a written warning with an informative handout for a primary offense and a quotation with a high-quality of as much as $100 for every subsequent offense.

These are welcome modifications, however they nonetheless miss the purpose: The panhandlers are unlikely to pay (or have the ability to pay) the fines, which suggests the brunt of the punishment will fall not on these soliciting donations, however on these making an attempt to assist. With the brand new modifications, panhandlers is probably not thrown in jail, however folks nonetheless can and might be penalized for his or her generosity.

There have been and can proceed to be debates about whether or not giving panhandlers cash or different provides helps or enabling. However it appears wrong-headed to castigate folks for performing with compassion.

Possibly fining the givers will cut back provide and subsequently cut back demand. Nevertheless, we don’t suppose it’s going to cut back the demand for donations — it’s going to solely change the situation of the place these calls for are made. If they’ll’t be within the median, panhandlers are prone to transfer to the shoulders and grassy areas alongside the roads. However for the reason that ordinance covers highway shoulders and rights-of-way, panhandlers must transfer to the sidewalks (which don’t look like coated) and should even spill into parking heaps.

Total, we don’t suppose the fee’s “security ordinance” will work the best way commissioners intend, and it appears seemingly the ordinance might be challenged in court docket. Whereas we perceive the answer isn’t to do nothing, we don’t suppose this plan is true, both.

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