50 bizarre laws that have existed or still exist in America | 31left
The United States has had its fair share of strange legislation in its existence thus far.
This includes an age limit on those who use playgrounds in Kansas, a prohibition on masked groups in New York (until the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it) and a ban on using ferrets as hunting animals in West Virginia.
Here’s part three of Fox News Digital’s list of the most bizarre and interesting laws in America — from Alabama to Wyoming.
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Many of the laws on this list have stood firm and are still in effect, while a few others have long since been repealed.
Also, some laws may not be exclusive to just one state.
Continue reading to learn about an odd law in your home state!
Alabama: Don’t dress as a member of the clergy (unless you are one)
A criminal code in Alabama states that no person shall pretend to be a minister of religion or any other member of the clergy (nun, priest, rabbi).
If the law is broken, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor.
The punishment, according to Alabama code Title 13A, is “a fine not exceeding $500.00 or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”
Alaska: Do not operate motorcycles or loud power tools at night
In Fairbanks, Alaska, it’s illegal to operate or use loud instruments between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to the city’s code of ordinances Chapter 46, Article II, Sec. 46-42.
This includes “a pile driver, pneumatic hammer, bulldozer, road grader, loader, power shovel, derrick, backhoe, power saw, manual hammer, motorcycle, snow machine or other instrument, appliance or vehicle which generates loud sounds or noise, after having been informed by another that such operation or use is disturbing the peace and privacy of others,” the city’s code on Offenses Against Public Peace and Order states.
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Arizona: Better not interfere with a claw machine or ‘crane game’
In Arizona, it is illegal to mess with a crane game, according to Title 13, Chapter 33.
“No person shall alter the game so the claw is unable to grab prizes, display prizes in a way where the claw is unable to grab those prizes, use money as prizes or award prizes in the game which are redeemable for cash or currency,” the law states.
It’s also against the law to misrepresent the value of prizes that a person may win in a crane game. Breaking this law is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Arkansas: Forget about beeping a horn after 9 p.m. at sandwich shops
In Arkansas, “no person shall sound the horn on a vehicle at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are served after 9:00 p.m.,” according to Little Rock’s code of ordinances Chapter 18, Sec. 18-54.
In 2020, Reuters also reported on Arkansas Title 1 — which addresses the pronunciation of the state name.
General Provisions Chapter 4 on “State Symbols, Motto, Etc.” states that Arkansas “should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables.”
“The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of ‘a’ in ‘man’ and the sounding of the terminal ‘s’ is an innovation to be discouraged,” Reuters said on its FindLaw page.
California: You can’t eat frogs that have died in frog-jumping competitions
California’s Fish and Game Code, Article 2, Frog-Jumping Contests (6880-6885), states that any number of live frogs are allowed to be used in frog-jumping contests.
Should one of the poor creatures pass on or be killed during the competition, however, “it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose,” the law says.
Colorado: You may not use upholstered furniture outside
In the Centennial State, no person shall keep, use or store upholstered furniture outside unless that furniture is specifically manufactured for outdoor use.
This may include upholstered chairs, upholstered couches and mattresses in the front, side or backyard.
If the furniture is temporarily placed in an outside location in the hope of selling it at a yard sale, however, that’s apparently a different story, according to Colorado’s “General Offenses” under Title 5, Chapter 4, 5-4-16.
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Connecticut: Don’t sell ‘silly string’ to a minor
In the city of Meriden, Connecticut, no person shall sell or offer silly string “or like products” to a minor unless that minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, Chapter 175, 175-2 states.
If placed for sale, these products must be in a locked case or behind a store counter.
It’s also reportedly illegal to use “silly string” or like products on Halloween in Hollywood, California (Los Angeles, Article 6, Public Hazards SEC. 56.02.).
Delaware: You can’t whisper or use profane language in a place of worship
Under Rehoboth Beach, Delaware’s Article IV Offenses Against Public Peace and Safety 198-23, no person may disrupt religious worship “by noise, talking or whispering, or by rude or indecent behavior, or by profane language within their place of worship, or within 300 feet of the place of worship,” the law states.
These rules also exist in reference to the disturbance of any lawful assembly and/or gathering of people in a public place.
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Florida: Please don’t feed the alligators
Under Florida Code Title XXVIII Chapter 372 under “Wildlife,” the law states that no person shall “intentionally feed, or entice with feed, any wild American alligator.”
This includes American crocodiles, the code states.
People who are allowed to feed the reptiles must be licensed and or do so for “educational, scientific, commercial or recreational purposes” and only while the creatures are in protected captivity.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel, for example, can feed gators.
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Georgia: You can’t have chickens crossing the road
Section 8-1 of Georgia law has rules against “domestic fowl running at large.”
“It shall be unlawful for any person owning or controlling chickens, ducks, geese or any other domestic fowl to allow the same to run at large upon the streets or alleys of the city or to be upon the premises of any other person, without the consent of such other person,” the law states.
Hawaii: You can’t post a billboard except in special cases
The Aloha State forbids outdoor advertising unless under special circumstances (Vol10, Chapter 0436-0474, 445-112).
Four states currently prohibit billboards:
Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont.
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For example, Hawaii officials apparently will allow billboards only on the property that is actually selling the item or service that’s being advertised.
Idaho: You can’t carry a red or white cane unless you’re fully or partially blind
Idaho’s Title 18 in Crime and Punishments, in Chapter 58 under Public Health and Safety, states that no persons unless completely blind or partially blind may use a red or white cane.
Only people who are blind may carry a cane in this color, according to the law.
In addition, no person who isn’t blind or partially blind is allowed to carry a cane that’s white tipped with red.
Illinois: You cannot dye a baby chick
It is against the law in the Prairie State to sell, offer to sell, trade or display “living baby chicks, ducklings, goslings, or other fowl or rabbits which have been dyed, colored or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color,” according to Chapter 7-12, Animal care and control.
The law also states that the animals should not be given away as prizes.
Indiana: Don’t even think about catching a fish with your bare hands
Fishing is allowed in the Hoosier State — but the state prohibits people from taking fish from the water using “the hands alone.”
Title 14, Article 22 under Chapter 9 also states that a net, dynamite or explosives may not be used, among other methods.
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Iowa: Don’t pass off fake butter as real butter
In reference to imitation butter under Title V, Chapter 192, section 143, the product can only be sold under the name of “oleomargarine.”
Imitation butter also cannot be advertised under the words butter, creamery or dairy — among other terms.
Kansas: Don’t use playgrounds if you’re over age 14
In Wichita, Kansas, no person over the age of 14 — with some exceptions — may use playgrounds that are designed for children, “which deprives or prevents the use of such equipment by children” (Sec. 9.03.430).
This law does not apply to parents and guardians who are participating with their children, by the way.
Kentucky: Do not use reptiles in religious services
In Kentucky under Chapter 208, Section 1, it’s against the law for a person to “display, handle or use” any breed of reptile in connection with religious services.
This law, according to Kentucky Revised Statutes, has been in effect since 1942 — and those who break is will be fined anywhere from $50 to $100.
Louisiana: You may not have reptiles at or near Mardi Gras
Leave your snake at home.
Section 34-21 of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances states that no reptiles are allowed within 200 yards of a Mardi Gras parade and not less than two hours before the published start time of a parade.
The animals also must not be within 200 yards of the end of a parade “for not less than one hour after the actual end of the parade,” the law says.
Maine: You can’t gamble at the airport
In Biddeford, Maine, under Section 14-2, it’s illegal to engage in gambling at the airport.
It’s also against the law to be intoxicated “or commit any act constituting a nuisance on the airport.”
Maryland: Forget about ‘stench bombs’
In Baltimore, Maryland, it’s illegal to manufacture, sell or trade a “stench bomb.”
Such “stench bomb” is defined as “any liquid, gaseous, or solid substance or matter of any kind which is intended to be thrown, dropped, poured, deposited, or discharged for the purpose of producing a noxious, nauseating, sickening, irritating, or offensive odor.”
Anyone who violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be subjected to a fine, according to Article 19, 59-32.
Massachusetts: Be careful how you play the national anthem
In Massachusetts, whoever sings or plays “The Star-Spangled Banner” on an instrument in any public space “other than as a whole and separate composition or number” will be fined.
There are other stipulations to this rule as well (Section 264:9).
The fine must not be more $100.
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Michigan: There is no drunkenness allowed on trains
Michigan law, Act 68 of 1913 (436.201, Section 1), states that no person shall ride any railway train if inebriated.
Minnesota: You can’t be charged with drunkenness
In Minnesota, it is noted in Section 340A.902 that no person “may be charged with or convicted of the offense of drunkenness or public drunkenness.”
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Mississippi: Don’t use profanity
If you swear in Mississippi, you can be fined up to $100.
This law, in Title 97, Chapter 29, also includes public drunkenness.
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Missouri: You can’t sell cars on Sundays
Just as in New Jersey and apparently in some other U.S. states, it is illegal to sell a vehicle on Sunday, according to Missouri’s code 578.120.
The law states that “no dealer, distributor or manufacturer” who isn’t licensed “may keep open, operate, or assist in keeping open or operating any established place of business for the purpose of buying, selling, bartering or exchanging, or offering for sale, any motor vehicle, whether new or used, on Sunday.”
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Montana: You can’t ‘drive’ animals on a railroad track
A livestock code in the Montana State legislature prohibits the “unlawful transporting or driving of livestock” upon a railroad track with the “intent to injure the corporation or persons owning the railroad.”
The livestock code (title 81, chapter 5) says the unlawful act is punishable with a monetary fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment in a state prison for up to five years or both.
The offender is also “liable for all injury or damage occasioned by reason of such act,” including animal injury or death.
Nebraska: You cannot marry if you have an STD
A marriage qualification code in the Nebraska State legislature prohibits residents with sexually transmitted diseases from marrying in the Cornhusker State.
“No person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state,” Nebraska’s Revised Statute Chapter 42-102 states, as of publication time.
Legislative Bill 882 (AKA LB745) attempted to revise the code to remove the marriage disqualification and instead tried to make “undisclosed [STDs] at the time of marriage” a qualifier for annulment — but the bill hasn’t been passed.
Nevada: Steer clear of the Powerball
Section 24 of the Constitution of the State of Nevada says that “no lottery may be authorized …nor may lottery tickets be sold” by state and political subdivisions in the Battle Born State.
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The constitution does give the Nevada legislature power to authorize and regulate lotteries (raffle or drawing) for organizations that are involved in charitable or not-for-profit activities.
“All proceeds of the lottery, less expenses directly related to the operation of the lottery, must be used only to benefit charitable or nonprofit activities in this State,” Nevada’s constitution says.
“A charitable or nonprofit organization shall not employ or otherwise engage any person to organize or operate its lottery for compensation.”
New Hampshire: Beware the collection of seaweed
New Hampshire Fish and Game Laws Title XVIII have a list of “general provisions” about seaweed collection, which are described in Section 207:48 to 207:54.
The seven sections prohibit activities such as nighttime seaweed and rockweed collecting from seashores “below high-water mark,” seaweed collecting from any salt marsh or flat “without leave of the owner,” piling seaweed below the high-water mark for the purpose of hauling away, selling seaweed outside the state — and uprooting and cutting live rockweed or sea moss from rocks, banks or shores.
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New Jersey: You can’t sell a car on Sunday
Section 2C:33-26 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice prohibits people and places of business from “buying, selling, or exchanging motor vehicles” on Sunday.
Violating the code is considered a “disorderly persons offense.”
Violation punishments escalate with each subsequent offense and can include monetary fines between $100 and $750, up to six months of imprisonment and suspension or revocation of a car dealership license.
An exemption exists for motorcycle sales (unless prohibited by county).
New Jersey is one of a number of other states that restrict or ban car sales on Sundays.
New Mexico: You can’t dance while wearing a sombrero
It’s reportedly illegal to dance in a sombrero in New Mexico, according to a report published by Tucker, Yoder & Associates, a law firm based in Farmington, New Mexico.
“There’s nothing illegal about wearing a sombrero in New Mexico, but start dancing in it and you’re breaking the law,” the law firm wrote in September 2021 in its roundup of 10 Odd New Mexico Laws.
“It might not seem like dancing in a sombrero would cause any reason to be banned, but the state lawmakers certainly disagreed,” Tucker, Yoder & Associates also said.
New York: Be aware that wearing face masks in groups was once banned
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was illegal for groups of people to wear masks in public spaces throughout the state of New York.
The law was repealed in May 2020 with N.Y. Penal Law 240.35(4), which ended the “nearly two-century-old statute” that made group mask wearing a “criminal violation,” according to the Office of the New York State Attorney General.
North Carolina: You cannot steal waste kitchen grease
The North Carolina General Assembly website has a criminal law outlined in chapter 14 of the North Carolina General Statutes (Section 14-79.2) that states it’s unlawful to steal waste kitchen grease.
It’s illegal to “take and carry away, or aid in taking or carrying away” waste kitchen grease and the containers that hold the grease when there are labels that state “unauthorized removal is prohibited without written consent of the owner of the container.”
Adding a fraudulent ownership label on a waste kitchen grease container and intentional contamination is also against the law.
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Violators of North Carolina’s waste kitchen grease law can be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class H felony, depending on the monetary value of the stolen grease and/or grease container.
North Dakota: Watch your poker playing
The North Dakota Legislative Branch’s Administrative Code on Games of Chance (Section 99-01.3-09-01) says licensed organizations can conduct a maximum of two for-profit poker events in a fiscal year, and each poker event is limited to a 72-hour period.
Organizations are allowed to run multiple poker tournaments “at each of its licensed sites” during this period.
“For a tournament, an organization shall charge each player an entry fee,” the code states.
“For each tournament conducted, the total fees cannot exceed three hundred dollars per player, which includes the buy-in or entry fee, plus rebuys, add-ons, and bounties. The total fees collected are considered gross proceeds.”
Ohio: Arrests cannot be made on Sundays or on July 4
Section 2331.12 of the Ohio Revised Code specifies the days that arrests cannot be made, which is available for viewing on the state’s Legislative Service Commission website.
“No person shall be arrested during a sitting of the Senate or House of Representatives, within the hall where such session is being held, or in any court of justice, during the sitting of such court, or on Sunday, or on the fourth day of July,” the code states.
Oklahoma: Know that tattoos were banned until 2006
The state of Oklahoma banned tattooing in 1963 — and lifted the ban in 2006 with Gov. Brad Henry’s signing of Senate Bill 806, according to a press release issued by the Oklahoma Senate.
The legislative decision granted the Oklahoma Department of Health regulation authority over commercial tattooing.
“I’ve said all along, this is a public health issue,” said State Sen. Frank Shurden, in a statement issued on May 10, 2006.
“If these businesses fail to follow basic health guidelines, they could be spreading terrible diseases like Hepatitis or AIDs.”
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Oregon: You can’t leave your car door open
Chapter 811 of the Oregon legislature’s Rules of the Road for Drivers (Section 811.490) describes a legal penalty that can be applied to people who open a vehicle door improperly or leave a vehicle door open for an extended period.
Opening a vehicle door when it’s unsafe to do so and/or interfering with traffic flow, pedestrian crossings and passing bicyclists can result in a Class D traffic violation.
The same applies to people who leave vehicle doors open on the side of traffic, busy sidewalks or shoulders “for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
Pennsylvania: You can’t fire guns or set off explosives at weddings
A reckless endangerment code that was established to protect people during wedding festivities and similar gatherings was referenced in a Proposed Crimes Code for Pennsylvania document.
Submitted to the Keystone State’s General Assembly in 1967, it states that reckless acts like firing guns and explosives are against the law.
The document can be viewed on the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website.
“Under Section 623 of The Penal Code of 1939 (18 P. S.§ 4623), it is a crime to serenade a wedding with guns or explosives,” the document states.
Rhode Island: You cannot steal poultry or receive stolen poultry
Title 11 (chapter 41, section 9) of Rhode Island’s General Laws on Criminal Offenses state it’s against the law to steal or receive stolen poultry.
“Every person who steals poultry from any building or enclosure in which poultry are kept or confined, or whoever shall receive poultry, knowing it to have been stolen, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both,” the legal code states.
The law says that one-half of the imposed fine “shall inure to the complainant.”
South Carolina: Males over age 16 can’t seduce someone ‘under the promise of marriage’
Title 16 on crimes and offenses (chapter 15, section 16-15-50) in the South Carolina Code of Laws characterizes seduction under the promise of marriage to be an offense against morality and decency — and male residents of a certain age aren’t allowed to do it.
“A male over the age of 16 years who by means of deception and promise of marriage seduces an unmarried woman in this State is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined at the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than one year,” the law states.
The law also says “there must not be a conviction … on the uncorroborated testimony of the woman upon whom the seduction is charged.”
A man won’t be convicted if at trial it can be proven that “the woman was at the time of the alleged offense lewd and unchaste.”
However, “if the defendant in any action brought under this section contracts marriage with the woman, either before or after the conviction, further proceedings of this section are stayed,” the law states.
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South Dakota: You can’t use fireworks to protect sunflower crops from birds
Title 34 (chapter 36, section 7), a public health and safety law that has since been repealed from South Dakota’s Codified Laws, permitted the use of fireworks or explosives to protect sunflower crops from birds. The act is now prohibited.
The State of South Dakota repealed the agricultural-focused pyrotechnic law in 2018 with House Bill No. 1015 during its 93rd session of the Legislative Assembly.
Before the repeal, farmers were allowed to use fireworks and explosives to scare off birds as long as they weren’t used with 660 feet of an occupied dwelling, church or schoolhouse — and as long as the action wasn’t done without written permission from an adjoining landowner.
Tennessee: You cannot import or possess a skunk (in most cases)
Unlawful importing of a skunk can result in a legal penalty, according to the Title 70 of the Tennessee Code’s Wildlife Resources (chapter 4, part 2) section.
The law prohibits “any person” from importing, possessing or causing the importation of a live skunk in the state of Tennessee. Selling, bartering, exchanging and transferring a skunk is not allowed.
There are certain exceptions for “bona fide zoological parks and research institutions” and people who have “a valid wildlife rehabilitation permit issued by the agency.”
Violators of the law will receive a Class C misdemeanor.
Texas: You can’t ‘solicit’ professional employment
In the Lone Star State, “soliciting” professional employment is an unlawful offense, according to Title 8 – Offenses Against Public Administration (section 38.12) of the Texas Statutes Penal Code.
“A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit the person: (1) knowingly institutes a suit or claim that the person has not been authorized to pursue; (2) solicits employment, either in person or by telephone, for himself or for another,” the section states.
Violators of the law can receive a misdemeanor or felony.
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Utah: Make sure you know the beer limit
Chapter four of the Utah Code’s Title 32B Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (section 32B-4-406.) sets a beer purchase limit for the public, which is outlined on the Utah State Legislature website.
“(A) a person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish beer to the general public in a container that exceeds two liters; and (b) a person may not purchase or possess beer in a container that exceeds two liters,” the law states.
Container-size exceptions exist for retail licensees that are dispensing beer for consumption and beer wholesale licensees that are selling beer to a licensed retailer.
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Vermont: Be aware that imitation butter once had to be pink
On Nov. 13, 1890, the General Assembly of the State of Vermont passed a law that required margarine and all other forms of imitation butter and cheese to be dyed pink.
The law applied to dairy companies and keepers of hotels and restaurants.
“Whoever by himself, his agents or servants, shall sell, expose for sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell, any article or compound made in imitation of butter, and not wholly made from milk or cream and that is of any other color than pink, shall, for every package that he or they sell or expose for sale, be fined the sum of fifty dollars, and for each subsequent offense shall be fined the sum of one hundred dollars. Half of the fine shall go to the complainant,” the law stated.
The Supreme Court struck down all pink dye mandates for imitation butter, which had been enacted in other states, on May 23, 1898.
“Pink is not the color of oleomargarine in its natural state,” the court wrote in its ruling.
“To color the substance as provided for in the statute naturally excites a prejudice and strengthens a repugnance up to the point of a positive and absolute refusal to purchase the article at any price.”
Virginia: You can’t hunt near a place of worship on Sunday
Hunting on Sundays near a place of worship in Virginia is against the law.
The restriction is noted in the Code of Virginia’s Title 29.1. on Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating, which is viewable on the state’s Legislative Information System.
Chapter five, article two of the law (section 29.1-521) specifies the animals that can’t be hunted on Sunday near a place of worship, in addition to what distance and weaponry types are acceptable for Sunday hunters.
“To hunt or kill on Sunday (i) any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, with a gun, firearm, or other weapon, within 200 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof or (ii) any deer or bear with a gun, firearm, or other weapon with the aid or assistance of dogs,” the law says.
Violators of the hunting restriction are punished with a Class 3 misdemeanor.
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Washington: Don’t use X-rays as shoe-fitting devices (unless you’re a podiatrist)
Section 70A.388.190 of the Revised Code of Washington prohibits the use of X-ray machines for nonmedical foot measuring in shoe sales or otherwise.
“The operation or maintenance of any X-ray, fluoroscopic, or other equipment or apparatus employing roentgen rays, in the fitting of shoes or other footwear or in the viewing of bones in the feet is prohibited,” the law states.
“This prohibition does not apply to any licensed physician, surgeon, *podiatrist, or any person practicing a licensed healing art, or any technician working under the direct and immediate supervision of such persons.”
West Virginia: You can’t use ferrets as hunting animals
The West Virginia Legislature bans residents from using ferrets as hunting animals, according to chapter 20 of the state’s code on natural resources.
You cannot “hunt, catch, take, kill, injure, or pursue a wild animal or wild bird with the use of a ferret,” the chapter’s section 20-2-5 (subsection 10) states.
Using a ferret to hunt is considered an unlawful method of hunting in the Mountain State.
Wisconsin: You must have cheeses of a ‘fairly pleasing’ flavor
An administrative code in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection specifies that certain cheeses made in America’s Dairyland should be “fairly pleasing” in flavor.
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Chapter ATCP 81 on Cheese Grading, Packaging and Labeling states that Wisconsin grade B cheeses, such as cheddar, granular, washed curd cheese, Colby, Monterey Jack, brick and muenster cheese must have “a fairly pleasing characteristic cheese flavor,” as noted in sections ATCP 81.42, ATCP 81.52 and ATCP 81.62.
The code says the aforementioned cheeses may also possess “undesirable flavors to a slight or very slight degree.”
Wyoming: You must have works of art for display on newly constructed public buildings
Title 16 (chapter 6, section 802) of the Wyoming Statutes describes “city, county, state and local powers” and “intergovernmental cooperation” laws for newly constructed public buildings.
A new building that uses state funds “shall include works of art for public display,” the law states.
The artwork mandate requires builders to allocate “an amount equal to one percent (1%) of total costs but not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) on any one (1) project.”
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New construction projects that cost less than $100,000 are reportedly “exempt from this subsection.”
Missed parts 1 and 2 of our earlier crazy laws roundups? Check these articles out!
Part 1: America’s oddest laws include rules against dressing as nuns, eating frogs and more
Part 2: These odd laws in America address banned tattoes, pink butter, poker playing and more