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Omaha proposal would address panhandling on street medians

Sep 28, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A proposed ordinance would ban people from being on certain types of medians at many Omaha intersections for any reason except for crossing the street or doing construction work. The proposal doesn't mention its primary target: panhandling.

The Omaha World-Herald reports Mayor Jean Stothert and city attorneys hope the wording will head off any complaints about violating anyone's rights to free speech. The mayor says federal courts have said panhandling is free speech and thus is protected by the Constitution. The ordinance wouldn't apply to sidewalks, street corners or medians that don't meet the criteria spelled out in the proposal.

The mayor submitted the proposal Tuesday to the council, which will consider it in coming weeks, including holding a public hearing.

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