Fredericksburg Law Changed

Did you know that panhandling is illegal in Fredericksburg? But up until last week, it was only illegal for certain people.

According to The Free Lance-Star the original version of Fredericksburg’s panhandling law outlawed the activity, but it contained an exception for the Fredericksburg Rescue Squad. The squad conducts a fund raiser on Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg. So when the city wanted to get indigent beggars off the street, they simply included an exception to allow the rescue squad to continue its fund raisers.

But this possibly violates the First Amendment. I’m surprised the Fredericksburg City Attorney let the original law even make it to a vote. Governments can pass time, place, and manner restrictions on free speech, but they cannot make willy nilly exceptions to allow favored groups to bypass those restrictions.

I wonder if a lawyer threatened to sue Fredericksburg over the original law. It might not have been a slam dunk case, but there were definitely some constitutional problems.

The interesting thing in this matter is that Fredericksburg never seemed to consider simply repealing the law. It looks like outlawing panhandling is more important to Fredericksburg than helping out the rescue squad.

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