During the village’s work session meeting at Village Hall last Wednesday, the village board passed its proposed aggressive panhandling law in a 3-0 vote. Trustees Paul Pereira and George Durham were absent during the vote since they were spending some time away with their families.
The new village law will focus on all aggressive panhandlers, not just those who are homeless who harass residents and commuters for money at the train station. If caught by police being aggressive, panhandlers will be fined.
For the first offense, aggressive panhandlers will face a $1,000 fine. For the second offense, a fine of $3,000 will be issued and a $5,000 fine will be issued if a panhandler is caught three or more times within a five-year period. Each offense can carry up to 15 days in county jail. The law will be enforced by both the Nassau County Police Department and the MTA Police.
Mayor Scott Strauss kept the law open for 30 days for any written submissions once the village board faced opposition from the Central Islip based-Empire Justice Center who said that the village was criminalizing the poor.
At the May 16 village board meeting, Strauss said that the village was looking to address certain acts, not a status of a person.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re homeless or a billionaire, it’s their act we’re looking to address, not their status,” said Strauss.
According to village clerk Joseph Scalero, no written submissions were submitted within the village’s timeframe.
Mineola is now the second village on Long Island to pass this type of legislation following the Village of Patchogue, which passed its ban on aggressive panhandling legislation last year.
The next village board meeting will be Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.