The question of whether police will be able to arrest people standing around looking for work is now in the hands of Gov. Janet Napolitano.
Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday pushed through a measure that would make it a crime to stand on or near a public street or sidewalk to try to get a job. No Democratic senators voted for the measure.
The measure already has been approved by the House, where all the votes against it again were from Democrats.
Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer would not say whether Napolitano, also a Democrat, will sign the measure. And if she does, a legal challenge might follow.
“It’s unconstitutional,” said Sen. Victor Soltero, D-Tucson. He said individuals have a right both to be in public places and ask for employment.
But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said his measure makes neither act a crime.
Instead, House Bill 2589 only subjects someone to a possible six months in jail if they also are “disrupting vehicle or pedestrian traffic.”
Senate Minority Leader Marsha Arzberger, D-Willcox, said the measure is a bad idea.
“I believe this issue should be taken care of at the local government level,” she said. “If there needs to be an ordinance of some kind in that particular city, it’s their choice.”
Kavanagh said that would be true if it were simply a problem in one or two communities.
“The best way to deal with widespread problems is to have a statewide, uniform ordinance,” he said.
And Kavanagh said nothing forces police to enforce this law in communities where local leaders do not see it as a problem.