You see it almost every day. Someone standing on the street holding a cardboard sign. I saw a woman yesterday as I was headed downtown and I thought, "What is her story?" "What landed her here?" Now, the city of Nampa is taking a stance and putting up signs telling people they can't panhandle and they can't solicit without a permit. They also say that people who want to help should give to local charities. Is this the right way to deal with this ongoing problem?

Some people say they have a real problem with the signs because according to city code, panhandling is not illegal.

According to the debate originated last fall when councilman Bruce Skaug first brought up the idea for the signs. Skaug claims that research shows that the majority of money given to panhandlers is used to buy drugs or alcohol.

The Nampa City Council decided to allow the Nampa Police $1800 to develop ten anti-panhandling signs. The city has yet to place many of the signs put they are thinking of placing them near the on and off ramps of I-84.

Nampa resident Kanton Lee from the non-profit "Because International" opposes the signs saying that it categorizes the city's homeless population as drug addicts and alcoholics.

Nampa City code specifically states that

panhandling is prohibited when a solicitor accosts someone in a public place.

Councilman Skaug says this defines people with those cardboard signs begging for cash. Lee sees things differently and says panhandling is legal as long as it isn't impeding traffic.

Retired Idaho State Trooper, Jim Davidson says he used to issue citations to several panhandlers every month and that the majority of people couldn't tell him what they were going to use the money for. He says he saw many people abandon food and water that motorists had given them.

So what are your thoughts? Should panhandling be illegal? What are your thoughts about these anti-panhandling signs being put up around Nampa? Let the debate begin!

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