Panhandling Debated in Montgomery County

By Chris Gordon
|  Thursday, Feb 17, 2011  |  Updated 9:45 PM EDT
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<a title=Chris Gordon takes a closer look at the ongoing Panhandler Problem in Montgomery County." />

Chris Gordon

Chris Gordon takes a closer look at the ongoing Panhandler Problem in Montgomery County.

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The Task Force on Roadside Solicitations is making recommendations about panhandling to the Montgomery County Council.

Drivers are regularly solicited, and sometimes panhandlers step into the roadway to collect.

 “County Executive Ike Leggett is recommending legislation that would enable the County Council to ban roadside solicitation except with a permit,” Joy Nurmi said in her presentation.
 
Some council members are hesitant to ban solicitations if it is the only way some people have to raise money.
 
“The problem of people begging by the side of the road is one issue," Councilman George Leventhal said. "The problem of poverty is a bigger issue.”

There's still a chance all roadside solicitation will be banned, which concerns charities  like the Montgomery County Career Firefighters Association, which collects for the Muscular Distrophy Labor Day Telethon. 

The Montgomery County Career Firefighters Association has been conducting its “Fill the Boot” drive for 25 years and it is concerned about protecting that fundraising event, Donnie Simmons said.
 
The state must first pass legislation banning roadside solicitation, since many of the roads are under the control of the State Highway Authority. That would enable Montgomery County to decide whether to impose a ban for safety reasons or require permits.  Solicitors would have to wear a license and a safety vest or reflective gear for safety reasons.

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