The House voted Monday to outlaw panhandling along state highways, freeways and their shoulders — upsetting some lawmakers because it would also ban off-the-sidewalk candidate “honk and waves” and firefighter “fill the boot” drives among cars.
The House voted 51-22 to pass HB101 by Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, and sent it to the Senate.
He said it was requested by the Downtown Alliance and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and replaces a law recently struck down as discriminatory. He said it affects panhandlers, but also any activity along roadways and off sidewalks — which he said could include honk and waves and fill-the-boot drives.
“It does not distinguish between the types of conduct,” he said.
Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, said the only places for effective honk and waves in his city are on corners of state highways. He opposed the bill as “a direct imposition on freedom of speech.”
Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the bill stops panhandlers holding roadside signs because it could distract drivers. “Under that rationale, we have a lot of billboard companies in trouble,” he said. “How different is it other than the desirability or lack of desirability of the person involved?”
Several lawmakers told stories of aggressive panhandling on freeway exits in Salt Lake City. Rep. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights, said panhandlers in traffic by the 400 South exit “is a tragedy waiting to happen,” and said the bill is needed.
The bill also outlaws “aggressive panhandling” within 10 feet of the entrance of a bank or automated teller machine.