Houston's Plan to Criminalize Charity, Mark Levin, Texas Public Policy Foundation
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.
You should go read Levin's entire write-up on this, because the City is really contorting logic in an effort to create a new revenue stream on the backs of the poor and charitable.
Of course, our Prog friends would remind us that the Government should handle all charity and could afford to do so if those that were making just slightly more than they were would agree to hefty tax hikes.
UPDATE: ChronBlog chimes in. Adding another piece to the puzzle I missed above: It's about controlling the homeless and keeping undesireables out of desireable areas. If conservatives really treated undocumented immigrants 1/2 as bad as Houston's Democratic establishment treats the homeless the media would freak out.