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Bill would force roadside solicitors to register in W.Va.

February 06, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Local and state officials concerned about people who solicit money along local highways and how the money is being used are trying to put some controls in place.

Officials have shown concern about people who stand along roads in Jefferson County - particularly U.S. 340 - and collect money from passing motorists, Jefferson County Commission member Dale Manuel said.

The groups claim to be collecting money for some type of cause, but sometimes it has been hard to determine what the money is being collected for, Manuel said.

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Some are collecting money under the name of a church, said Del. Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson.

"Some of that money could go into a person's pocket. Right now, there is really no scrutiny," Manuel said.

Because some solicitors have collected money at busy intersections, safety also is a concern, Manuel said.

One of the situations that has generated concern is solicitors who routinely stand around the intersection of East Washington Street and Flowing Springs Road and collect money from passing motorists, Manuel said.

People also have stood along U.S. 340 near Wal-Mart and collected money, Wysong said.

A bill is pending in the Legislature that would allow county governments to set up a permitting process for solicitors, Manuel said.

Under the process, solicitors would have to obtain a permit from county government before collecting money, Manuel said.

The permitting process would allow officials to question those seeking to solicit donations and enable them to better determine whether the organizations they represent are legitimate, Manuel said.

House bill 2141 is on its third and final reading in the House of Delegates. Some lawmakers are concerned that the bill would affect the ability of charitable groups to seek donations, said Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson.

The bill would not hurt the ability of groups like fire departments, the Red Cross or Boy Scouts to solicit donations, Tabb said.

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