Rhode Island bill would fine drivers who give to panhandlers

Panhandler sign_237176

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A group of Rhode Island lawmakers is trying once again to get a bill passed to fine motorists who give money to panhandlers.

Cranston Democratic Rep. Charlene Lima introduced it Thursday with four Democratic co-sponsors.

It proposes a fine of up to $100 for the first violation and higher fines for subsequent violations. Lima has unsuccessfully pushed for similar legislation before, arguing she’s trying to prevent a dangerous situation on roadways.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island says it’s an attempt to prohibit an activity that’s protected by the First Amendment. Executive Director Steven Brown says he’ll oppose it again this year.

The bill says motorists could give to panhandlers when their vehicle isn’t in an active travel lane and municipalities could establish permits for collecting money in travel lanes.

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