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Amended city ordinance will require solicitors to wear OSHA approved safety vests

Matt Trotter

An amended city ordinance will require anyone solicitating on Tulsa medians or roadways to wear high-visibility safety apparel that meets industry standards.

Councilor Kara Joy McKee said while the amended ordinance provides important security protocols, she's concerned that requiring OSHA approved reflective vests could cause undue expenses for the city.

"Making sure that we can see people that they're not out at night or too early in the morning, that we don't have kids in the road — those things make sense," McKee explained. "But there's a fine line to tread when we're talking about asking people to purchase something, less we have to arrest them."

McKee said city councilors are working to find a balance between complying with the Constitution and keeping people safe.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we're violating the First Amendment because we're taking people to jail because they're not buying the right vests, "McKee said.

In addition to the safety apparel requirements, the amended ordinance allows people aged 16 and older to solicitate during the city's approved daylight hours, which are set between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City had previously approved ordinances that prohibited anyone from sitting, standing, or remaining in street medians or roadsides throughout both cities — which included engaging in any type of solicitation.

In 2020 the federal court of Appeals for the 10th circuit ruled that OKC's ordinance violated the First Amendment because street medians are considered to be "traditional public forums."

Officials said the rules will be implemented after Mayor G.T. Bynum's signs the amended city ordinance.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.