Court blocks Indiana panhandling law from starting July 1


INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — A law that would make it illegal for a person to panhandle within 50 feet of an ATM, public monument, or the entrance to a bank, business, or restaurant, has been blocked.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted a preliminary injunction preventing House Enrolled Act 1022. The new law was set to go into effect on July 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ACLU and three ACLU staff members who solicit donations in downtown Indianapolis. In the lawsuit, the ACLU claims that the bill infringes on the First Amendment rights.

“Because of the broad definition of financial transaction, the expansion of the places near where panhandling is prohibited, and the increase of the distance restriction to 50 feet, HEA 1022 leaves virtually no sidewalks in downtown Indianapolis or any downtown area in any Indiana city where people can engage in this activity,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “This panhandling ban is an unconstitutional attack on free speech. Now more than ever, we must protect Hoosiers’ rights to free speech, in all forms.”  

Illegal panhandling is a misdemeanor. Current law already limits the time period a person can panhandle.

To read more about the preliminary injunction click here.

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