As expected, this afternoon Orlando City Council passed sweeping new panhandling laws that will take effect immediately.
Proposed by Mayor Buddy Dyer's administration, the new laws cover a wide array of restrictions – for instance, you can no longer ask for money or receive donations from cars that are stopped at red lights, stop signs or exit ramps. You can no longer solicit anyone while that person is using an ATM machine. You can no longer ask for money while blocking a parking lot or parking structure. And lastly, you can no longer solicit a "captive audience," which covers quite a bit of territory, like anyone eating on a patio or watching a performance in a park.
In 2000, the City of Orlando outright banned panhandling in downtown except in one of the 26 designated "blue boxes," which some say limited free speech. The old law also said that panhandling was only allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Now you can panhandle whenever you want.
City officials say the new changes were prompted by lawsuits in other cities, including a 2013 case in downtown Tampa and Ybor City that banned panhandling. However, a federal court ruled this case was a violation of the First Amendment.