BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — A bill proposed in the West Virginia Legislature could address aggressive panhandling that some residents describe after strangers approach them and ask for money.
House Bill 2236, introduced Feb. 10 by Delegate Caleb Hanna, R-Nicholas, would amend the Code of West Virginia. Article 6, regarding unlawful panhandling and solicitation. The bill would provide misdemeanor penalties, but would exempt fire departments.
Under HB 2236, the term “panhandling” means “any solicitation made in person requesting an immediate donation of money,” according to the bill’s text. If enacted, no person will be allowed to panhandle at a bus stop or train stop, in a public bus or facility, in a vehicle on the street or on private property unless the owner or occupant has provided written permission.
The bill would also regulate panhandlers’ behavior. On any street, sidewalk, public right-of-way or private property, a panhandler would not be allowed block the path of a person being asked for a donation. A panhandler would not be able to follow a person who walks away. Making “any statement, gesture or other communication by which the panhandler knowingly causes another to believe that the panhandler will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person” would be a violation of the code, too…