Jan 2, 2016 12:24 PM

Nashua mayor vetoes revised anti-panhandling ordinance

NASHUA — Days before her term ends, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau vetoed the newest anti-panhandling ordinance approved by aldermen on Dec. 22.

Lozeau had vetoed an earlier version two months ago and argued this one was not substantially different from the first, according to the Union Leader.

The ordinance, she argued, is vulnerable to court challenge because restricting panhandling can be viewed as a restriction on free speech. Nashua can use existing state laws to address safety issues caused by panhandlers standing near the road and interacting with motor vehicle operators.

Lozeau noted that there is no evidence of accidents or injuries caused by individuals panhandling along Nashua streets.

The controversial ordinance passed on a divided 8 to 7 vote of the Board of Aldermen.

The ordinance, spearheaded by Alderman Mike Soucy, would have prohibited anyone from handing out or accepting anything from motorists in the travel lanes of striped roadways.

“I believe there are other, better options than (the ordinance) available to address panhandling in our city,” Lozeau said in her veto letter on Tuesday. “As I have noted before, the city should assist in raising awareness of the public and private agencies in the city that provide assistance to people in need.”

Soucy has argued previously that the proposal does not prohibit free speech or forbid panhandlers from standing outside with their signs.

Nashua's next mayor, Jim Donchess, will be sworn into office on Jan. 10.

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