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Proposed bills would criminalize homelessness

Phoenix unhoused
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.