Really strange laws 3  

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10/7/2005 2:52 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Really strange laws 3


The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act defines an employee as "any individual employed by an employer."

It is illegal to loiter in the city morgue in Detroit.

Redford Township, Mi., has a "Downspout Appeal Board."

Due to a typographical error, a routine ordinance in Shelbyville, Ind., about charging for bad checks started out: "Whereas, the city of Shelbyville through its various governmental fascists receives numerous checks..." This was changed to "governmental facets."

An ordinance proposed in Robbins, N.C., states, "In the future, anyone not living within the immediate vicinity of Robbins must have a permit from the Chief of Police and okayed by the Mayor or one of the Commissioners." It's not clear what the permit is for, but they may be on to something.

North Carolina just passed a law saying a political action committee, or PAC, has to have a name that describes the group's cause or purpose. The idea is to prohibit, say, the highway or tobacco lobbies from calling themselves "Citizens for Good Government."

Under a recent change in federal law, garment workers can now make mittens at home.

A Minnesota tax form is quite thorough. It even asks for your date of death.

Under the law of the state of Washington, any restroom with pay toilets has to have an equal number of free toilets. This law came to pass after the speaker of the state House of Representatives raced to an all-pay facility without a dime.

A regulation in San Francisco makes it unlawful to use used underwear to wipe off cars in a car wash.

Baltimore has regulations governing the disposal of hog's heads, pet droppings and oyster shells.

In Baltimore it's illegal to block the sidewalk with a box. But the offense only carries a $1 fine. Another law makes it illegal to throw bale of hay (or of anything else) out a second-story window. That gets you a $20 fine.

To cut down on its once-horrific graffiti problem, New York City several years ago made it illegal to carry an open can of spray paint.

In San Antonio, Texas, you can't honk a horn, run a generator, have a revival meeting or do anything else that disturbs the neighborhood and the city has a four-member noise police squad to enforce the law.

In North Carolina it's illegal to sell cotton lint at night. It's also legal to sell cottonseed at night.

A city council member in Albuquerque, N.M., introduced a resolution a few years ago to ban Santa Claus from the city. The matter was defeated.

If you've got a gal in Kalamazoo, better whisper sweet nothings to her. An old law forbade swains from serenading their sweeties from outside the window.

It's illegal in New York to start any kind of public performance, show, play, game or what have you, until after 1:05 p.m.

In Hartford, Conn., it's illegal to plant a tree in the street.


In New York, it's unlawful for any person to do anything that is against the law.

New York drivers are known to be crazy, but so are pedestrians in the Empire State. The law may be part of the problem. Jaywalking is legal, as long as it's not diagonal. That is, you can cross the street out of the crosswalk, but you can't cross a street diagonally.

A Boston mayor who disliked dancing and liked to retire early once banned midnight dancing in the Hub City.

In Boston it's illegal to post an advertisement on a public urinal. It's also against the law to hang a vending machine on a utility pole.

Under an 1872 law still on the books, an alderman in Chicago can carry a gun.

In Hartford, Conn., it's illegal to plant a tree in the street.

In Boston, it's illegal to cut firewood in the street, or shoot a bow and arrow in the street.

In New York City, it's illegal to throw swill into the street.

San Francisco prohibits kerchoo powders and stink balls.

Members of nine New York Indian tribes are exempt from the city's eight percent parking tax.

In a law that predates returnable bottles and cans, it's illegal in Boston to rummage through rubbish containers.

In Danville, Ky., it's illegal to throw slops or soapsuds in the street.

New York City may be the theater capital of the country, but it's illegal to have a puppet show in your window and a violation can land you in the snoozer for 30 days.

In Forest City, N.C., it's illegal to bring a pea-shooter to a parade. It's also illegal to shoot paper clips with rubber bands.

Take some elocution lessons if you're going to Joliet, Ill., where it's against the law to mispronounce the city's name. Offenders can be fined up to $500.

In Salem, Oregon, it's illegal for patrons of establishments that feature nude dancing to be within two feet of the dancers.

"Dwarf-tossing," the strange practice of hurling dwarfs in padded suits, is outlawed in the bars of Springfield, Ill., because it's dangerous and exploitative. The practice is apparently allowed elsewhere in town, with a special permit.

In Christiansburg, Va., it's illegal to "spit, expectorate or deposit any sputum, saliva or any form of saliva or sputum."

Oakland, Calif., makes it illegal to grow a tree in front of your neighbor's window and block his view. However, you're off the hook if the tree is one that town officials consider an attractive tree, such as a redwood or box elder.

In Oxford, Miss., it's illegal to "create unnecessary noises."

Balloons with advertising on them are illegal in Hartford, Conn.

In Provincetown, Mass., it's illegal to sell suntan oil until after noon on Sunday.

In Boston it's against the law to keep manure in a building unless the building is being used as a stable. If it is, you can keep up to two cords of manure. If you're overstocked, you need a permit to move the stuff. And you can't leave it in the street.

Perhaps anticipating telemarketing, the town fathers of Albany, Va., have for years prohibited peddlers from using the telephone to either sell things or raise funds.

Communism has been against the law in Haines City, La., since 1950.

Under an 1889 law, the health officer of East Jordan, Mich., could send any nonresident with an infectious disease back to where he came from, as long as the person could travel. If not, the officer could rent a house for use as a pest house.

During the 1960s, Youngstown, Ohio, briefly had a law making it illegal to walk barefoot through town.

The people in Manteno, Ill., do not want used facial tissue, period. Hence, you cannot "throw, drop or place" a used hankie "upon any public way or public place or upon the floor of any convenience or upon the floor of any theater, hall or assembly or public building or upon the surface or any lot or parcel of ground or on the roof on any building or in any light or air shaft, court or areaway."

In Minoola, Ill., it's illegal to take your clothes off and "expose the naked person" during daylight or twilight, even if all you're doing is taking a bath.

By town law the sewer service charge in Belhaven, N.C., used to be "$2 per month, per stool." It was recently changed to read "per toilet."

Funeral jargon seems to have crept into the wording of a cemetery fee regulation in Norton, Ohio. There regular plots are $33, but "creamies" are $75.

The good people of Tryon, N.C., are serious about getting a good night's sleep. It's against the law for anyone to keep "fowl that shall cackle," or for anyone to play the piccolo between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.

As in many towns, you need a permit to run a barbershop in Christiansburg, Va. But the wording of the town's law indicates that the permit will be revoked if you're caught operating without a permit.

In Christiansburg, Va., it's illegal to imitate a police whistle.

Gypsies should steer clear of Caroline County, Md., where it's a $100 fine or six months in the can for "forecasting or pretending to foretell the future."

In Xenia, Ohio, it's illegal to spit in a salad bar.

Strangers in Simsbury, Conn., were required, under an ordinance enacted in 1701 and only recently repealed, to leave town within a month unless they had at least 20 shillings to their names.

Under an old law in Marblehead, Mass., it was illegal to cross the street on Sunday, unless absolutely necessary.

It sounds like the title of a rock album or something, but "Coasting on Beaver Street" is illegal in Edgeworth, Pa.

In Robbins, N.C., anyone who refuses to black out after hearing the blackout signal is subject to a $5 fine.

An ordinance in Murray, Ky., says the superintendent of sanitation "shall determine whether a person is small, medium or large." Why the superintendent should make this determination is left unsaid.

By law, "watch stuffers" are unwelcome in McKeesport, Pa. Now, no one is quite sure what a watch stuffer does, but whatever he does, he better do it somewhere else.

It used to be against the law in Jonesboro, Ga., to utter the words, "Oh boy."

Miami Shores Village, Fla., has for years required that all goods made in Communist countries and offered for sale in Miami Shores Village be clearly marked as such. The ordinance notes that such goods are often marked in a "false, misleading or inadequate manner, to hide their Communist origins."

In Rockwell, N.C., anyone who violates the terms of a proclamation--such as failing to appropriately celebrate Peanut Day or Jaycees Week--is guilty of a misdemeanor.

A 1950 anti-obscenity law in Irondale, Ala., prohibited any showing of anyone nude or "in a substantially nude state" except a babe in arms.

In Jonesboro, Tenn., a slingshot used to be classified by law as a deadly weapon.

A Washington state law offers the presumption that youngsters will read comic books.

Under the Code of 1650 in the New Haven Colony (in what is now Connecticut), a 16-year-old boy could be put to death if he "cursed, struck or disobeyed" his parents or was "stubborn or rebellious."

Wisconsin law provides for a fine of $2 to $20 for anyone under age 17 caught jumping onto a railroad car while the train is in motion.

In a case of wishful thinking, a Delaware legislator recently proposed a law that would require every minor to inform his or her parents before engaging in sexual intercourse.

It used to be the law in Hawaii that children had to obey all "lawful and moral" commands of their parents.

In Olympia, Wash., minors are prohibited from frequenting pool halls.

In Washington state it's illegal to sell to minors comics that might incite them to violence or depraved or immoral acts.

A Wisconsin legislator recently introduced a bill making it illegal to tattoo someone under the age of 18. He was quoted as saying, "I'm going to save the buttocks of a few juveniles."

In Mesquite, Texas, it's still against regulations for youngsters to have haircuts that are "startling or unusual."

In Washington, it's illegal to pretend you're the child of a rich person and entitled to his estate.

Wyoming required that every inmate of the state's training school for girls be issued crinoline bloomers.

Under a 1959 ordinance, stubborn children were considered vagrants in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Fla.

In North Carolina it's illegal to dig ginseng on other people's property between the months of April and September, according to an 1866 law.

If you happen to own a marl bed in North Carolina, the law demands that you put a fence around it. A marl bed may not be what you think. It is a kind of rock quarry.

Apparently with an exaggerated idea of the laws of thermal dynamics, the city council of West Palm Beach, Fla., once decreed that the roofs of all outhouses be fireproof.

In Los Angeles, years ago it was legal to cook in your bedroom, but not to sleep in your kitchen.

An old law in Columbus, Georgia, made it illegal to sit on your porch in an indecent position.

In San Francisco, it's illegal to beat a rug in front of your house.

A Kennesaw, Ga. law makes it illegal for every homeowner not to own a gun, unless you are a convicted felon, conscientious objector or disabled.

In Ballwin, Mo., the only place you can use vulgar, obscene or indecent language is in your home.

In Colorado it's now legal to remove the furniture tags that say, "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law."

In Washington state, until quite recently, you could have been fined up to $500 for removing or defacing the label on a pillow.

Because people were using them for cheap furniture, it's now illegal in North Carolina to take and sell labeled milk crates.

Taxpayers of Bainbridge, Ind., used to have to swear a solemn oath that the values they placed on their taxable property were the fair market values.

In colonial times, Hartford, Conn., had an ordinance that allowed any resident to rent the town chain for 2 pence. The resident had to fix it if he broke it.

In Hawaii, it's illegal for a shooting gallery to offer liquor as a prize.


In Hawaii it's illegal for a shooting gallery to offer liquor as a prize. The shooter might want to come back after drinking the prize and try again.

In Baltimore it's illegal to play professional croquet before 2 p.m. Sunday. The law also applies to professional quoits.

Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire had old laws that penalized gamblers who lost money. You'd get fined in Massachusetts if you had any money left. In New Hampshire you are prohibited from pawning the clothes off your back to pay off gambling debts.

In recent years, several efforts have been made to legalize camel racing and ostrich racing in New Mexico, but to no avail. Those bills were defeated, but the legislature recently allowed gambling on bicycle races.

Delaware prohibits horse racing of any kind on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Under Delaware law, any person of good moral character may keep and operate a bowling alley. No gambling, however, is allowed.

Riverboat gamblers in Iowa have a $5 maximum bet.

In Las Vegas you can bet on any team--except The University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

It's illegal to clam at night in Connecticut.

Due to a typographical error in the Tempe, Ariz., code, a shooting range can be run by the "Amateur Crapshooting Association."

The state of Washington doesn't allow marathon dancing--or marathon skipping, sliding, gliding, rolling or crawling.

San Francisco has an ordinance prohibiting "cane games." City officials have no idea what cane games are. But when revising city laws recently, officials decided to keep the prohibition on the books, in case someday, somehow, cane games came back, they were deemed improper and the city needed the law.

Washington state doesn't allow fake wrestling.

In Maryland, the legislature once proposed a board of parachute examiners to be made up of five licensed parachute instructors who would test and license all other parachute instructors. The plan had been abandoned when it was learned there were only three licensed parachute instructors in the state.

In North Dakota, charitable groups can hold stud poker games to raise money, but only twice a year.

In Indiana a sports agent is supposed to give a college 10 days notice before luring a star athlete into the professional ranks.

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