SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane City Council is considering a panhandling ordinance that could have a devastating effect on two local non-profits and their fund raising efforts.
For the last 16 years in the spring, volunteers all over the community have collected loose change in the largest fundraiser of the year for the Spokane Guild School.
The school provides help to infants and toddlers in the area with disabilities and now their biggest money making event may be in jeopardy.
The City Council is looking at a new ordinance that would crack down on panhandling, which is seen as a detriment to the community and economic development within the city.
The Vehicle Interference Ordinance would make slowing down or stopping traffic while collecting money a misdemeanor. The ticketable offense would also outlaw charity collection by the Guild School and the local firefighter's "Fill The Boot" campaign benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The Guild School says earlier this year, donations during their penny drive were down almost 60 percent in Spokane Valley, who already has a similar ordinance in place.
Council members call this an all or nothing measure they've been working on with multiple community groups since April. Non-profits want an exception for one day a year but the city says it would be unconstitutional to allow charities but not everyone else. They say its unfortunate and they will do what they can to try and work something out but the interests of the city as a whole outweigh the needs of the two local charities.
The council expects to vote on the ordinance later this month, if it passes it will go into effect after being signed by the Mayor.