Jefferson City Ordinance Would Regulate Roadside Solicitation

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City Council will introduce a bill next week that would further regulate solicitation on some of the city's busiest streets.

If passed, the ordinance would disallow anyone seeking contributions from the occupant of a moving vehicle on certain streets without a permit. Previously, similar guidelines have been in effect, but according to City Attorney Drew Hilpert, they were inadvertently removed in 2011 when the city rewrote its code of ordinances.

The bill specifically mentions highways 50, 54, 63 and 179, Missouri Boulevard and Ellis Boulevard. Under this proposal, anyone attempting to solicit contributions from drivers on these roads or at any of their intersections would be subject to fines.

Jefferson City resident Pam Cecil said there are enough potential distractions inside and outside of vehicles and this measure would make roads safer.

"The biggest distraction was children in the backseat, and the second biggest distraction was deer." Cecil said. "And people," her grandson Joshua added.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Carrie Carroll sponsored the bill and said the distractions caused by peddlers are a public safety issue.

"Anybody who's using the roads and highways, especially those major intersections, really needs to be focused on the road and safety and not be distracted by people trying to sell things out on the sidewalks," Carroll said.

Carroll said this bill would not restrict any First Amendment rights. Simply holding a sign on a sidewalk would not be a violation. However, if such a sign asks for a contribution of any sort, it would violate the ordinance. Organizations exempt from federal taxes, including charities and religious groups, would be able to obtain a solicitation permit.

Carroll said she believes the bill is an important safety measure that would reduce risk for drivers in busy areas of the city.

"With the speed of the vehicles, it doesn't take much for somebody to be distracted and have a bad outcome," Carroll said. "So we're there to say ‘that needs to not happen.'"

The Jefferson City Council will vote on the bill during its meeting Monday night.