Strangely Specific Regulations

People seem to want a government that solves problems. And 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.