Houston City Council will be considering an ordinance (see page 32) today which would criminalize the giving of food to the needy without permits or complying with a long list of regulations. The offense for helping others in a way that is not approved by city bureaucrats is a fine of up to $2,000 a day, with each new day of renegade charitable giving classified a separate offense.
The reasoning behind the law seems to have little sense and the enforcement mechanism in place makes even less sense. People and non-profit organizations shouldn’t be deterred from helping others due to government red tape. With no requirement of a culpable mental state for conviction (mens rea), those who will most likely suffer are those who had no idea such a statute existed or attempted to comply but made a mistake when trying to follow cumbersome regulations.
When I first saw this story i thought it was something that came from The Onion.
While Mayor Parker imagines that an anti-gay cabal is responsible for her narrow avoidance of a runoff last fall, we would submit instead that her policy misadventures such as the rain tax (in which she and supporters misled the public about the cost), massive water-rate increases, massive fee increases, and dithering for quite some time on red-light cameras before finally terminating them all contributed to her poor showing. Add the recent effort to overregulate auto mechanics and now this proposal to criminalize charitable feeding of the poor to the list of misadventures.
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