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Bill Could Limit Panhandling In Maryland

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A bill under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly would require panhandlers and anyone who solicits money on roadsides to get a permit.
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A bill under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly would require panhandlers and anyone who solicits money on roadsides to get a permit.

Roadside solicitation has been banned in seven counties in Maryland, and two others have a permitting process. Montgomery County does neither, and officials there worry the county is becoming a destination for panhandlers.

Council Member George Leventhal says panhandling does need to be limited, but he adds the factors that lead to begging -- homelessness and drug addiction among them -- should not be overlooked.

"I do not object to the proposed legislation. But I'm sorry, if passing that bill becomes our sole focus, I don't think we will have made much progress," he says.

Some of Leventhal's colleagues on the council are calling for an outright ban on roadside solicitation, but county firefighters vow to fight that, saying it will negatively impact their yearly three-day "Pass The Boot" campaign, which seeks donations along roadsides for muscular dystrophy research.

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