The number of cities passing laws against panhandling increased 25 percent between 2011 and 2014, according to the Pew Charitable Trust. But recently, more and more cities are repealing those laws.
The city of Duluth is set to take up the issue at a city council meeting on Monday, when city councilmember Joel Sipress is planning to introduce an ordinance that would repeal the ban there.
The city, local police and downtown businesses have worked together to make sure the downtown area is a safe and welcoming place, regardless of a person's income, Sipress said, acknowledging panhandling does happen there.
"Really, we all know it's a fact of life in our country and in our urban areas," he said.
But recent court cases have brought into question the constitutionality of banning panhandling. For that reason, the city and police have not been enforcing the law for some time, Sipress said.
"Recent rulings regarding First Amendment rights suggest that individuals do have a constitutional right to ask people for money," he said.
The city is currently reviewing a number of policies, focusing on how they affect the homeless community. So now is an opportune time to repeal the law deemed to be unenforceable, Sipress said.
"Duluth is a community where we take very much seriously our need to treat all members of our community with respect and dignity regardless of their economic circumstances," he said.