BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Belleville is giving beggars a break.

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Belleville is giving beggars a break. The southwestern Illinois city had required panhandlers to get written consent from the mayor, but the City Council voted 11-1 on Monday to ease the restrictions. That means Belleville beggars can now ask for cash unless it’s after dark or they’re in groups, at public events or near banks and automatic teller machines. The practice also is banned in the parking lots of businesses, schools, public housing complexes and medical buildings. The ordinance doesn’t apply to nonprofits or other donation-seeking charitable groups. Alderman Tim Carpenter cast the lone dissenting vote, saying it’s wrong to tell panhandlers its okay to beg. The city’s police chief pushed for the change after questioning whether the earlier restrictions were constitutional. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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