April, 14th 2011

Small government #FAIL

– Liz Mair

This may be the stupidest thing I've read today, and since my job requires me to pay attention to a lot of weird and crazy shit posted on the internet, that's saying something:

Republicans have called for less permits and regulations in 2011, but on Wednesday a proposal for a new regulation was passed unanimously by a Senate panel that would require the homeless to have a permit to panhandle.

SB 1180 is an expansive transportation bill that includes numerous items, from giving theFlorida Passenger Rail Commission all authority to monitor funding for Florida passenger rail, to no longer requiring the Department of Transportation to be responsible for lowering the amount of pollutants that enter transportation stormwater facilities.

The bill passed the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations by a 15-0 vote. But one part of the bill that came under fire on Wednesday would require a permit to panhandle and would authorize fines for people who don’t have one and fraudulently panhandle. Local governments, however, would be able to opt out by a majority vote.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg and whose district has had an ongoing battle in dealing with panhandling, said the proposal is not meant to hurt the homeless. He said it is an attempt to go after those people who lie and are in fact financially stable, but choose to panhandle.

“If you say that you’re pregnant, you better be,” said Latvala. “If you say you’re homeless, you need to be. If you say you are a veteran, you darn well should have been.”

The bill would allow a pedestrian violation to be issued to those that don’t comply, as well as an extra $10 fine. Latvala noted that a permit would not cost anything as long as those that apply qualify for a “hardship waiver.”

This is a pretty epic small government #FAIL, by my standards.

For starters, this is exactly the kind of thing that state government should keep its nose out of and leave the issue to localities (which this legislation apparently recognizes is to some degree smart because it allows "opt-outs," though it still proceeds with a bad idea nonetheless).

But beyond that, it's also likely to prove ineffectual and pointless. Who wants to make a bet with me that basically no one who currently panhandles, whether genuinely in need and homeless or not, is going to go apply for this permit, whether they make it free or not?

And to finish off, let's just stipulate that the number of people out there who think this is a good use of legislative time can probably be reduced exactly to Jack Latvala and his chums in the legislature.  Cut spending and rein in idiotic, excessive regulation exactly like this? Nah... Jack Latvala says, let's do more that's nonsensical, especially since we live in a state racked by foreclosures where it's likely some much more consequential types of fraud have occurred than some lady on the corner taking you for fifty cents because she said she was preggers. OMG!!!

Listen, if you have concerns about giving panhandlers money because you think they could be con artists... don't give them money!  And tell your friends and family not to, too

If you do give panhandlers money, do it like most people (and me!) on the assumption that there could be a certain amount of overstatement or hyperbole or downright lying involved, but hey, you're handing over some pocket change you don't vitally need, so who really cares (apart from Jack Latvala, obviously). [intro]


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