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Md. Bill Targets Panhandlers And Roadside Solicitation

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Some Montgomery County Council members believe the proposal to introduce permits for solicitation doesn't go far enough.

Panhandling is a problem, according to Council Member George Leventhal. But he adds the reasons why individuals are forced to do it, namely homelessness, are a problem as well.

"Legislation to require a permit before someone can solicit on the roadside addresses the first issue. It does nothing to address the second issue," he says.

But panhandlers are far from the only group that would be affected by the bill. Any group that sought donations along roadways would need to get a permit, and Council Member Marc Elrich fears that would make things very confusing for police.

"Our police are going to waste their time trying to figure out who has a legitimate permit, who doesn't -- which organizations are real, which are not. Why would we want to divert police resources to that activity while there are other things they should to be doing?" he asks.

Elrich supports an outright ban on all roadside solicitation, and at least two of his colleagues agree.

But firefighters are set against such a ban because of their "Pass The Boot" campaign that supports muscular dystrophy research. The campaign is conducted along roadways three days a year, and the head of those efforts in the county says making firefighters collect the donations in shopping centers instead of on roadways will result in a steep drop in money donated.

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