Indianapolis panhandling ban on hold

A homeless person in downtown Indianapolis.

It looks like a proposal to ban all panhandling downtown will remain on hold.

Council President Maggie Lewis said she doubted the Rules and Policy Committee would vote on it Tuesday night, even though the proposal was on the agenda.

"It's not dead in the water. We just want to figure out how to have a reasonable ordinance that's not subject to a costly lawsuit," said Lewis.

Ken Falk with the ACLU of Indiana has said if the proposal passes in its current form, it will be challenged.

Falk recently told Eyewitness News, "We've already been contacted by plaintiffs."

Mayor Greg Ballard made the ordinance a top priority during his state of the city address earlier this year. He said panhandlers, even those who were "passive," sitting with a sign and a cup, were hurting the city's convention and tourism business.

"This proposed panhandling ban has been studied since late last year and is modeled after laws in other cities that have been upheld by a federal court and a federal appeals court. It is disappointing the leadership of this council continues to stall passage of a proposal that will make downtown Indy an even better place to live, work, shop and visit," Ballard wrote in a statement Tuesday evening.

Mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter said the mayor's office was "frustrated" to hear of another delay, but said, "We'll keep pressing for it."

Lewis wasn't sure when the proposal might come up for a vote. She said several councilors wanted to see how similar ordinances worked in other cities before taking up the issue.