Tag Archives: obscure regulations

Regulation Roundup

Here’s a fresh batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • Flirting is illegal in Haddon, New Jersey. (see § 175-12)
  • It is illegal to play cards on the street in Madison, Iowa.
  • In Haverbill, Massachusetts, it is illegal for women to wrestle.
  • It is a felony for bears to wrestle in Alabama.
  • You may now sit outside year-round in Stratford, CT if you like.
  • Talk about attention to detail. Massachusetts state law requires gift certificates to be valid for at least 7 years.
  • In Florida, it is illegal to release 11 helium balloons per day. 10 is ok, though.
  • Adams County, CO requires all male massage parlor workers to wear white shirts and white pants. Transparent clothing is expressly forbidden.

Regulatory Roundup

Here’s another batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • In Little Rock, Arkansas, it is illegal to honk your horn at a restaurant after 9:00 pm.
  • It has been illegal for men to walk dogs in public in Saudi Arabia since 2008.
  • Until 1975, wearing a swimsuit on a Kentucky city street without a police escort meant a fine of up to $25.
  • In New Jersey, you need a license to break eggs at work.
  • In Walnut City, California, cross-dressing is only allowed if you get a permit from the sheriff.
  • §10-1.2 of Honolulu’s city code makes it “unlawful to annoy any bird” in a public park.
  • In Naples, Italy, the law requires pizzas to be round.
  • It is illegal to play bingo while drunk in Kern County, California. Only sober people may play.

Regulation of the Day 190: How to Behave While in a Forest

Since time immemorial, Cook County, Illinois has had very strict personal conduct regulations for its forests. Among other things, it has been illegal to:

  • Hang out (only applies to felons)
  • Tell fortunes
  • Have your fly open
  • Juggle
  • Do a somersault
  • Park illegally (redundant?)
  • Perform acrobatic stunts

All those clandestine activities are now legal. Those laws are at least 100 years old, and were mainly intended to prevent traveling circuses and carnivals from setting up shop in the forests surrounding Chicago. No citations for any of these offenses have been issued within living memory.

That’s why Cook County’s forest preserve took the hygienic step of repealing the regulations. If a rule isn’t going to be enforced, or if it is clearly a relic of the horse-and-buggy era, it shouldn’t be on the books. Legislators around the country at all levels of government would do well to follow the example that Cook County’s forest preserve has set. It’s the regulatory version of spring cleaning.

Strangely Specific Regulations

People seem to want a government that solves problems. They have gotten exactly what they asked for. In the U.S., regulatory agencies employ over 270,000 problem-solvers. Worldwide, there are even more. When there are that many regulators, they will come up with some very creative problems to solve. The next someone tells you the economy is dangerously unregulated, refer them to this list:

  • In New Hampshire, it is illegal to have a ferret in your possession while on your way to a hunting trip.
  • Also in New Hampshire, ventriloquism is a licensed occupation.
  • In Juneau, Alaska, regulations prohibit animals from entering barbershops. Remember, humans are animals. And the city code doesn’t offer an explicit definition of “animal” that excludes humans. So technically, nobody is allowed inside a Juneau barbershop. Not even to water the plants, which are allowed. (Hat tip to Eli Dourado)
  • It is illegal to counterfeit cat and dog tags in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
  • If you’ve ever been in a duel, you may not work as a first responder in Kentucky.
  • Minnesota regulations prohibit washing teflon-coated cookware with abrasive sponges.
  • In New Orleans, it is illegal to inflate meat.
  • In Connecticut, it is illegal to use a white cane unless you can’t see it.
  • Delaware has a particularly postmodern regulatory code. In that state, it is a felony to wear a disguise while committing a felony.
  • In Indiana, it is a class B misdemeanor to dye birds and rabbits.
  • In Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is against city law to shake carpets in the street.
  • In La Plata, Maryland, taxis with three doors are illegal.
  • According to Chapter 9.32.040 of Moab, Utah’s city code, boobie traps are illegal.
  • All ice sold in El Paso, TX is required by law to be made inside city limits unless it’s made from distilled water.
  • It is against the law in Massachusetts for construction workers to wear stilts.
  • In Nevada, forgetting to close a gate is a misdemeanor.
  • In Fairfax County, Virginia, it is illegal to use a pogo stick on a city bus unless the driver specifically asks you to.

Modern America isn’t the only time or place where regulators pay astonishing attention to detail. Just for fun, here are a few strange rules from the other side the Atlantic:

  • 16th century England had antitrust regulations similar to our own. In an early example of preventing vertical integration, it was illegal to be both a tanner and a currier.
  • In England, it is illegal to turn off someone else’s lamp if both of you are on or near a city street.
  • In Turin, Italy, failing to walk your dog at least thrice daily is punishable with a €500 fine.

Friday Regulation Roundup

-The federal government has a Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. I also had one when I was a kid – my parents.

-In Fire Island, New York, it is illegal to eat cookies on the beach.

-Not sure how to drink water? The National Drinking Water Advisory Council can help.

-In North Dakota, it is against the law to sleep with your shoes on.

-Does your company make blood-based products? Consult the federal government’s Blood Products Advisory Committee.

-The government is starting an Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women. Those resources could have been used for research.

-If you have ever been in a duel, you are ineligible to vote in Mississippi.

140 New Regulations in Florida

Florida has one busy legislature. They spend their time on everything from the amount of toilet paper in restaurant bathrooms to fake testicles on the back of pickup trucks.

The mighty Solons of Florida have just passed a whopping 140 new regulations. Hopefully residents can keep them all straight! Highlights:

-If you sell horse meat for human consumption, you should be aware of new labeling rules.

-It is now illegal to own a Burmese python in Florida.

-Or a bong, for that matter.

-Florida’s $100 limit for poker buy-ins is repealed. There is no longer a limit on buy-in amount.

-Want to coach your kid’s youth sports team? You will have to pass a background check.

-The next time you buy over-the-counter cold medicine, you will have to show ID and sign a form.

Friday Regulation Roundup

Some of the stranger governmental goings-on I’ve dug up recently:

-Since 1960, it has been illegal to fly a kite in Schaumburg, Illinois.

-If you are a tree in need of help, the federal government has a Tree Assistance Program.

$18,881 of stimulus money spent on a single sign in Wyoming.

-Concerned about your fecundity? Consult the federal government’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee.

-Northern Arizona University spends $75,000 in stimulus funds to install electronic sensors to see if students skip class.  (hat tip to The Wall Street Journal‘s Kim Schatz)

-In Alabama, it is against the law to sell artificially colored potatoes.

-Need help with your math homework? Consult the government’s North American Numbering Council.

-In Yukon, Oklahoma, it is illegal for a patient to pull a dentist’s tooth.

Regulation of the Day 120: Fish Tanks in Barbershops

In Tenneessee, it is illegal for barbershops to have fish tanks. That could change as soon as today, though. HB2823, sponsored by Rep. Ty Cobb, is up for a vote today in the state Senate. It would make barbershop fish tanks legal once again. The bill already passed the House by voice vote. Why the need for such obscure legislation? According to Tennessean.com,

[Rep. Cobb] proposed the measure after a constituent who owns a barber shop with a built-in fish tank told him she was asked to drain the aquarium after a state inspection and told she could only have fake animals in it.

While fish tank liberalization won’t affect very many people, it is heartening to see legislators repealing laws instead of passing more of them. Legislators looking for other things to repeal can start by looking at other Regulations of the Day. Congratulations to Rep. Cobb for doing the right thing. More, please.