Missoula City Council to Reconsider Panhandling Ordinance - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Missoula City Council to Reconsider Panhandling Ordinance

Posted: Updated:
MISSOULA -

Missoula City Council members will reconsider a recently passed ordinance on aggressive panhandling, in light of a recent lawsuit over a similar law in Boise.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho sued the City of Boise over its ordinance banning solicitation, and a federal judge ruled in favor of the ACLU.

Boise's law on panhandling is very similar to Missoula's, which makes it illegal for a person to sit, lie, sleep or solicit within 20 feet of building entrances.

ACLU attorneys said this violates civil liberties, and they'll bring litigation unless the council decides to make the law less restrictive.

In December, council members approved changes to city law because of an increase in negative-- or even dangerous interactions between aggressive panhandlers and community members.

"We have a serious situation downtown and sometimes it rises to the level of a public safety problem," said council president, Marilyn Marler.

Marler said after they learned the outcome of the lawsuit in Boise, they've decided to vote to reconsider Missoula's ordinance within the next two weeks.

"Because their ordinance is so similar to ours, it seems like a smart thing to do to talk about it," she said.

Marler said then, council will vote to keep the ordinance as is, make changes to it, or to not readopt it at all.

"So that we could keep the intent of what we passed, but also to have it acceptable to the ACLU, or make us less vulnerable to a lawsuit," said Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Montana, Anna Conley.

Conley said the law violates First Amendment rights because it bans all forms of solicitation.

"Even peaceful forms of solicitation, music performing, peaceful begging, even some forms of political solicitation," she explained.

Conley said the sit, lie, sleep section of the ordinance also wrongfully targets the homeless community.

"It essentially makes them criminals because of a condition that could be chronic or involuntary."

Conley said if city council doesn't vote to make the law less restrictive, they'll have to file a lawsuit against the city, and she feels confident they'd win, given the ruling in Boise.

"All we need to do is enforce existing law, and not criminalize protected behavior that's generally benign," Conley said.

The City Council Administration and Finance Committee will have discuss revisiting the ordinance on Wednesday.

Council members plan to vote to reconsider the panhandling ordinance next week.

We'll keep you updated as we learn more on that decision.

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • SO GOOD: Montana Tech's Xavier Marsden

    SO GOOD: Montana Tech's Xavier Marsden

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-04-17 00:26:24 GMT
    Sophomore cornerback Xavier Marsden is from La Mirada California, right outside Los Angeles. The city boy says he loves being in Butte. "It's been good. Coming from a big city to a small town definitely
    Sophomore cornerback Xavier Marsden is from La Mirada California, right outside Los Angeles. The city boy says he loves being in Butte.
  • Former Griz Football Player Battles Cancer

    Former Griz Football Player Battles Cancer

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-08 23:00:04 GMT
    A former Griz football player prepares to take on different kind of physical challenge, after learning he has cancer. Former linebacker Cole Lockwood got his diagnosis just last week and is now recovering
    A former Griz football player prepares to take on different kind of physical challenge, after learning he has cancer.
  • Trial Beginning In Spokane Stolen Car Shooting

    Trial Beginning In Spokane Stolen Car Shooting

    Monday, March 31 2014 1:52 PM EDT2014-03-31 17:52:27 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The trial is beginning this week in Spokane for a man accused of killing a man who was taking his SUV.
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The trial is beginning this week in Spokane for a man accused of killing a man who was taking his SUV. Gail Gerlach is charged with manslaughter in the March 2013 shooting of 25-year-old Brendan Kaluza-Graham. Gerlach says he fired when he thought he saw a gun. Police found no gun in the vehicle.
  • Montana Tech Football Building Momentum

    Montana Tech Football Building Momentum

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:37 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:37:21 GMT
    The Oredigger football team only has a handful of practices remaining before the Spring Game. Head Coach Chuck Morrell says the energy is high. "I love the way we're operating tempo wise right now.
    The Oredigger football team only has a handful of practices remaining before the Spring Game. Head Coach Chuck Morrell says the energy is high. "I love the way we're operating tempo wise right now.
  • Fatal Crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman

    Fatal Crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:27 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:27:10 GMT
    One person is dead, following a crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman on Wednesday afternoon. The crash happened shortly after 2 p.m. at the intersection of Frontage Road and Valley Center Road. ABC Fox Montana
    One person is dead, following a crash on Frontage Road in Bozeman on Wednesday afternoon. The crash happened shortly after 2 p.m. at the intersection of Frontage Road and Valley Center Road. ABC Fox Montana
  • Local Teenager Regains True Sense of Smell and Taste

    Local Teenager Regains True Sense of Smell and Taste

    Friday, April 11 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-04-11 22:16:15 GMT
    Dara Crouse underwent a surgery today. First and foremost, the surgery happened to allow Dara Crouse to breathe. That's according to her mother, Jana Crouse. She realized her daughter had a problem
    Dara Crouse underwent a surgery today.
  • Latest of Noah Pippin's Death

    Latest of Noah Pippin's Death

    The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Search Team made their way through the Bob Marshall wilderness to search for new evidence with regards to the disappearance and death of Noah Pippin. They
    The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Search Team made their way through the Bob Marshall wilderness to search for new evidence with regards to the disappearance and death of Noah Pippin.
  • Brewery Gets A Boost

    Brewery Gets A Boost

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 8:22 PM EDT2014-04-03 00:22:45 GMT
    The beer business is getting a boost over in Whitefish. The Great Northern Brewing Company just got 3 new 100-barrel fermenting tanks set up on Wednesday to the tune of nearly $250,000. Later
    The beer business is getting a boost over in Whitefish.
Powered by WorldNow

Features

  • More Features
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Cowles Montana Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.