September 9, 2013

Biddeford may join others, limit panhandling

As in Portland, residents' complaints lead to proposals to ban the activity on medians, and raise constitutional concerns.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

A woman accepts money from a motorist Friday while panhandling from a median on Route 111 in Biddeford. Her sign reads: “Homeless, hungry, & sober ... Please help!”

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Related headlines

"Like the Portland ban before it, this proposal definitely raises constitutional concerns. First of all, it appears to ban all manner of constitutionally protected activity, including holding a political sign, collecting signatures or even stopping to talk to a friend," Healy said. "Further, it is unnecessary since there are already laws against people being intoxicated in public, blocking traffic or threatening motorists."

Last month, a Michigan law banning panhandling in public places was struck down by a federal appeals court. The American Civil Liberties Union initially filed the suit in 2011 on behalf of two men who were arrested for begging.

A Utah law banning begging near roads was last year deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. The ACLU of Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the city of Worcester for enacting two anti-panhandling ordinances, one of which prohibits panhandling from street medians.

City Councilor Bob Mills, who chairs the Biddeford council's policy committee, said the committee could vote as soon as Monday to forward its recommendation on the new ordinances to the full council. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal before voting. 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)