Council rejects controversial panhandling proposal

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The City-County Council has rejected a controversial plan to strengthen the city’s panhandling ordinance.

The plan would have created a “no solicitation zone” in the heart of downtown between North, South, East and West streets, and around Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field. The zone would ban verbal requests for money, signs and cup shaking.

Proponents, including Mayor Greg Ballard, claim panhandling is seriously hurting the city’s tourism industry.

According to Visit Indy, Indianapolis lost 10 meetings in the past two years after decision makers cited panhandling as a key concern. Those conventions had the potential for about $6.3 million in visitor spending.

Mayor Greg Ballard released the following statement Tuesday:

“This proposed panhandling ban has been studied since late last year and is modeled after laws in other cities that have been upheld by a federal court and a federal appeals court.

“It is disappointing the leadership of this council continues to stall passage of a proposal that will make downtown Indy an even better place to live, work, shop and visit.”

Opponents said they worried the measure would have violated free speech.

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