City Council hears proposal to change panhandling ordinance

The Lincoln City Council took up pan handling in its public hearing Monday night.  They’re looking at changing certain rules.

Currently, city ordinance prohibits someone from using "profane" or "abusive language" when soliciting others for money.

But a proposal by the Lincoln City Attorney’s office would drop that ban.  Instead, it would prohibit people from repeated panhandling requests after someone has already refused or ignored those requests.

City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick said someone could be solicited every day as he comes out of his home by the same person, but that would not be a violation. 

"As long as they just ask him once, he goes on his way, that’s not repeated because it’s not part of the same incident," Kirkpatrick said.

Some councilmen said they didn’t like the idea of removing the abusive language ban from ordinance.

Kirkpatrick said abusive language is in the eye of the beholder.

"If I were to mutter something under my breath that you would understand, but just mutter it under my breath, that might be perceived differently or the police officer might react differently or the prosecutors might react differently than if i was screaming it in your face," Kirkpatrick said.

Also under the proposal, panhandlers would no longer be able to stand in the streets and on medians while soliciting passing vehicles.