Montgomery County Seeks Permit Requirement for Panhandlers

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is urging state lawmakers to propose legislation that would require panhandlers in Montgomery County to have a permit for all roadside solicitations.  Under current County regulations, panhandlers are allowed to stand in the median of county roads, but are not supposed to approach drivers, which many do.  If a permitting system was adopted, the County would have more control on panhandling. The Gazette reports,

Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park said Thursday that he plans to sponsor a bill that would allow the county to create a permitting system. An identical bill will be filed in the House, he said.

The permits would be required for panhandlers and groups such as charities that solicit money. People selling items such as flowers or water along the road also would be included.

A bill introduced by Raskin in 2009 would have required the permits — not simply given the county the authority to require them.

The recommended legislation is the product of a task force that was formed in 2010 to study roadway solicitation. The group formed after complaints from drivers and businesses that panhandlers were making driving conditions unsafe and affecting sales.

Leggett said it is likely that the permits would cost a small fee, perhaps the $2 or $3 it costs to process them.

“At a number of intersections there is aggressive solicitation of motorists in their cars by people who come into the road,” said Raskin, a member of the task force. “It’s a huge traffic and safety hazard, in addition to slowing down traffic.”

 Anne Arundel, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Prince George’s and Washington counties have banned panhandling.

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