Council moves up Lexington panhandling ordinance on agenda

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Lexington city leaders are moving up panhandling on their agenda. Earlier this year, the state supreme court struck down a 2007 ordinance that banned panhandling. But now, discussions are on the table to put a new ordinance in place.

City leaders say they've been searching for solutions as the number of panhandlers on the streets continues to rise.

In February, the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a Lexington ordinance banning panhandlers saying it was a violation of free speech.

After getting many complaints about people begging on streets and intersections, Lexington Police say they will now be stepping up patrols. They say while panhandling has been made legal, aggressive and hostile begging can be harassment.

Urban County Councilman Kevin Stinnett says, it was decided that a replacement ordinance focusing on pedestrian and traffic safety will be discussed next month at a council committee meeting. It was originally scheduled to be discussed in June.

Stinnett says panhandling is one of the biggest topics of people in Lexington right now.

"We want to make our community safer for everybody. We also want to help people," Stinnett said. "We are a very giving community, and we want to make sure our community helps those who need to get help and this ordinance will hopefully protect and saves lives at the end."

The city is encouraging people not to give to panhandlers but instead, direct them to social service agencies.

The next committee meeting is set for May 2.

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