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New Law Bans Panhandling On Medians, TRAX Lines

Whittney Evans/KUER

A new Utah law bans panhandling on road and highway medians as well as light rail lines. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill this week.

The law prohibits pedestrians from collecting money in those places. During the legislative session, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said he sponsored the bill after witnessing how dangerous these transactions can be for both pedestrians and motorists.

“Not long ago, I saw a family — a mother, father and at least one or two children — standing on the median on a very busy road with a sign looking for some sort of exchange to happen," Eliason said.

He said the family would not be breaking the law if they’re simply holding a sign.

“But you need to make the exchange in a safe spot," he said. "You know, the side of the road or a parking lot."

After three citations, a panhandler can be slapped with a Class C misdemeanor. The law takes effect on May 8.

The Legislature passed a similar bill last year banning panhandlers from exchanging goods and money at freeway exits and along high-speed highways.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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