Boise's new panhandling law takes effect Thursday

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- The city's new ordinance regulating panhandling takes effect Thursday.

The Boise City Council passed the new panhandling ordinance in September after tense debate and plenty of protest.

Now it's time to enforce the new law which in part prohibits soliciting from motorists on roadways, soliciting outside banks and ATMs and soliciting through physical contact and threats.

Physical contact, threats and intimidation are the key elements of what's called aggressive solicitation.

A first offense would be an infraction and a possible $60 fine unless it rises to the level of aggressive solicitation in which case it becomes a misdemeanor with possible jail time.

City leaders say they're trying to make Boise a more livable place but critics say the new ordinance is a frontal assault on First Amendment rights.

City leaders insist the ordinance ensures the protection of free speech and they point out it permits so-called passive solicitation.

There will be legal challenges ahead but the city says it's confident the new ordinance can be successfully defended.