City To Revise Outdated Panhandling Ordinance

DES MOINES, Iowa–  The ACLU warned the city of Des Moines weeks ago that its panhandling ordinance violates the constitution.

The ordinance, which has been on the books for years is now considered unconstitutional after recent supreme court rulings.

The Des Moines City Council agreed to begin the process of throwing out their current ordinance and writing a new one.

The court has held that panhandling is a form of protected free speech.

City Attorney Jeff Lester says the city has time to draft that new ordinance because the current one isn’t really used that often.

“You have an invalid, unconstitutional ordinance in our opinion now our suggestion is to repeal that we have not prosecuted under this ordinance, our prosecutor hasn’t prosecuted a single case,” attorney Jeff Lester said.

Lester says the city can have an ordinance that prevents panhandlers from occupying certain dangerous locations but the city can’t specifically ban the act of panhandling.