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Proposed bills would criminalize homelessness

A large homeless encampment is shown in Phoenix, Aug. 5, 2020. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, the ACLU of Arizona filed a complaint against the city of Phoenix to block the planned resumption of cleanup sweeps it says have displaced people and destroyed identification documents, prescription medications and other meager belongings at a huge homeless encampment downtown.
Ross D. Franklin
AP Photo
A large homeless encampment is shown in Phoenix, Aug. 5, 2020.

Two proposed Arizona bills want to criminalize common activities of those experiencing homelessness.

The bills would make it illegal to sit, lay down or sleep on sidewalks in public rights-of-way. They would also make it illegal to panhandle in certain areas.

Violating the proposed law could result in a misdemeanor up the possibility of up to six months in jail on the third offense.

The Arizona Mirror reports that the bill’s sponsor – Fountain Hills Rep. John Kavanagh – says the bill is needed to improve public safety.

Both bills had their first hearing in the state Senate Wednesday.

Kavanagh has tried to pass a similar bill before but faced opposition from both parties, and former Gov. Doug Ducey signed similar legislation by Kavanagh in 2015.