New York City Councilmember Andy King wants to require costumed performers in Times Square (and other public places) to register with the city — $175 for a two-year license plus $75 for fingerprinting fees — in order to accept tips or donations. This week, the City Council Consumer Affairs Committee heard testimony from many of the performers, who incidentally showed up in costume. Which is how we have Batman and the Joker on the same side fighting against a Registration Act, a term that has deep roots in Marvel Comics (aka the "big comic book company that doesn't have Batman"). As reported by Gothamist, at one point the Joker proclaimed that "this straight up seems like fascism to me."
The whole scene is entertaining, for sure, but the bill itself (Int. 467) is an important debate. King argues that the registration is intended to curb aggressive solicitation, to which Councilmember Dan Garodnick notes that such laws already exist without registration or the associated fees. And even if it does pass — 22 members currently support the bill, 26 votes and the Mayor's signature are required — there's the question of legality. A report from Gothamist in September concluded that the bill potentially violates First Amendment.
The whole debate is interesting and this is definitely worth a read. And once you do, treat yourself to some official City Council photos from the testimony.
All photos credited to William Alatriste for the New York City Council.