Carmel council updates solicitation ordinance to exclude minors

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The Carmel City Council has updated its solicitation ordinance for the second time in the past month after it discovered the previous changes would have made it difficult for the Girl Scouts and other children’s groups to raise funds.

Last month, councilors amended the city’s solicitor ordinance to require all people (including those affiliated with a not-for-profit) going door to door to sell commercial goods to undergo a criminal background check as part of an application for a solicitation license. Prior to the change, those selling commercial goods to benefit a not-for-profit were exempt from having to obtain a license.

The amendment was made at the recommendation of Carmel’s city attorney, who told councilors a change in case law prevents municipalities from treating those soliciting on behalf of a not-for-profit differently than those representing businesses.

The changed ordinance would have applied even to Girl Scouts selling cookies in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Monday night, however, the council updated the ordinance again, this time, adding language that defines a vendor as someone 18 and older.

City attorney Ashley Ulbricht told the council the original change had the “unintended consequence” of requiring an organization's youth representatives  to undergo an extensive criminal history review. There are public policy concerns, difficulties and delays involved with releasing juvenile records, she said.

She told the council it would be appropriate to define a vendor as someone 18 and older to avoid those issues.

Councilor Sue Finkam thanked Ulbricht for bringing the update to the council, saying several members had asked about finding a way to exclude minors from the ordinance change after passing the first amendment last month.

An 18-year-old high school senior fundraising for an organization, however, would still be required to undergo the background check, which costs $20, Ulbricht said.

“We had to draw the line somewhere, unfortunately,” council president Kevin Rider said.

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