Newport could soon be following in the footsteps of Providence when it comes to panhandling.

Newport City Councilor John Florez announced on Friday morning on his Facebook Page that he plans on addressing the issue at the next meeting of the Newport City Council on Wednesday, September 28th.

TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT PANHANDLING: In our next Council meeting I will be introducing a resolution that will address our panhandling issue. The challenge thus far has been coming up with an ordinance that holds up constitutionally. This proposed ordinance would prohibit the exchange of money between someone on the street and an auto. The same ordinance is being proposed in Providence by former Mayor Joe Paolino. Throughout my tenure on the Council I’ve been given many reasons why we can’t do something about panhandling in our city. Here we have a viable solution that’s worked in other places. I urge my fellow Councilors to join me in our next meeting and support this measure.

The Providence Journal reports that there have been Questions raised about Providence panhandling ordinance.

UPDATE: Rhode Island ACLU says the proposed panhandling ordinance raises series constitutional questions , read more – https://whatsupnewp.com/aclu-says-proposed-panhandling-ordinance-raises-serious-constitutional-questions/

The ordinance that has been proposed in Providence would stop streetside panhandling of drivers stopped at intersections, the wording states no one may step into a roadway “for the purposes of distributing anything to the occupant of any vehicle”.

The ordinance introduced in Providence would allow sidewalk-to-car handoffs if the pedestrian is on a sidewalk and the car is not moving.

The proposal, introduced by Providence Ward 8 Councilman Wilbur Jennings, is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU). ACLU believes it violates the First Amendment right to solicit donations and is also worded in a way that would ban “Tag Days”.

At this point, Providence’s proposed ordinance would not stop panhandlers from asking for donations from those walking by at other locations (streets, parks and etc). Providence City Council is working on a finalized proposal regarding panhandling.

A proposal to crack down on aggressive panhandlers was rejected by the Newport City Council by a vote of 4-3 back in 2013.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.