Orlando city council expected to vote Monday on new panhandling ordinance

- If commissioners pass a new ordinance Monday, it will be against the law for panhandlers to take donations from drivers, but they will be able to ask people on the street for cash at any time.

This is all because of a Supreme Court ruling that panhandling is free speech.

Therefore, Mayor Buddy Dyer says Orlando is changing its current anti-panhandling rules to address this.

“We're not confident about the enforcement of those laws based on a lot of decisions that have come out of Federal Court,” Dyer said. “So, we've studied what other cities have done that have been court-tested and we're emulating some of those.”

The new laws will make it illegal for panhandlers to accept donations from drivers, but will make it legal to ask pedestrians for hand-outs, as long as panhandlers don't follow people around or act aggressively.

“Primarily focused on aggressive panhandling,” Dyer said. “So, somebody that asks once and remains persistent after they've been told no.”

The city will also remove the blue boxes painted on the sidewalk.

These used to be the only legal places panhandlers could ask for cash.

Homeless advocate Shelley Lauten, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, said the new law will be better because it targets a behavior, not a particular group of people.

“It separates out the difference between panhandling or solicitation," she said. "It's talking about a behavior, not a group of people who are homeless, because too often our perception is they're one and the same, and they're just not.”

The city's vote is set for Monday afternoon.

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