SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House unanimously passed a bill Friday that would prohibit panhandling on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or higher.
Under HB161, anyone exchanging money or property between moving cars and people along an interstate, freeway, state highway, state route or paved road with a speed limit at or above 35 mph would face a citation.
On the third strike, the infraction would could possibly be elevated to a class C misdemeanor.
Bill sponsor Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said HB161 makes no restriction to free speech and is focused only on safety.
"It simply says that if you're going to make an exchange with a vehicle and a pedestrian, please do it in a safe place," Eliason said.
Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said as the bill was passed out of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee that the group would not oppose the effort so long as it doesn't infringe on free speech.
Eliason pointed out to the committee that the bill does not single out panhandlers, but would apply to anyone from politicians to firefighters.
The bill now advances to the Senate for consideration.