Frederick County Council Votes Down Bill To Allow Solicitation For Charities In The Streets

It was modeled on local fire fighters at one time  collecting contributions to fight muscular dystrophy.










Frederick, Md (KM) A bill to allow individuals to collect money in the streets for charity was rejected by the Frederick County Council on Tuesday. The vote was 3-4 with Councilmembers MC Keegan-Ayer, Michael Blue, Phil Dacey and Jerry Donald in the “no” column.

The legislation sponsored by Councilman Kai Hagen was inspired by the one-time practice of local fire fighters standing at intersections, collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He said the measure had restrictions to keep pedestrians and motorists safe. “Had specific hours, in specific places,  on specific days, once a year, under a safety plan and supervising, unable to impede traffic, raising money for a good cause,” said Hagen.

Council President MC Keegan-Ayer said she’s heard from her constituents who don’t want this bill. But they are willing to donate to their local fire company or the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “But they do not want to be sitting at a light at an intersection and having someone come up and tap on their window, or dodging between cars. They are very concerned about that.”

Some safety concerns were raised by Councilman Phil Dacey. “I just think these intersections are not compatible for pedestrians to be in and out of the traffic pattern, whether it’s fire fighters or panhandlers, or whatever, car wash,” he said.

Hagen responded. “We’ve heard people conflating this with the homeless, with panhandling, etc.,” he said. “There is no connection, no relationship. This has no affect on that one way or the other.”

The legislation, if it passed, would have allowed people to stand in a roadway, a median divider or intersection and collect money from motorists for charities. It would require these individuals to apply for a permit from the county, and they could only do that once a year. Those taking part would have to be 18 years of age and older, and they would need to have a Certificate of Liability Insurance. Soliciting would only be permitted  between a half hour after sunrise, and a half hour before sunset. The solicitors could not impede traffic, and would need to wear badges or attire which identifies them as collecting for a specific charity. A safety plan would also have to be submitted with the application.

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater felt these restrictions would keep everyone safe. “We also have the additional language in the bill with the requirements of what the safety plan needs to have as well as the fact that any organization can only apply for this permit once a year,” she said. “And I think that we’ve put a lot of things in place to ensure that it is safe.”

But Councilman Donald said this bill should be defeated. “There’s got to be better ways to raise money than that,” he said. “I’m sorry. I can’t vote for this. I don’t think people will like it. They want to go from point A to point B without being stopped,” he said.


By Kevin McManus