I was recently in Oregon for a meeting and had the need to rent a car and in turn, had the need to buy gasoline. That’s when I was reminded that in Oregon, you cannot pump your own gasoline. It is against the law. Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states in the country that have decided it is too dangerous for the public to pump their own gas. At least that is their theory. The fact that in 48 other states and the District of Columbia the public being able to handle pumping gas has not held any sway over legislators in these two states. Periodically, bills are introduced in the Oregon and New Jersey legislatures to lift the self-pump ban, but to no avail - they like being different.
That’s just part of our system of government in the United States. States are “test tubes” for trying out legislative ideas. Supposedly, this provides us with an opportunity to try different ways to legislate and regulate, and the superior ideas will be emulated in other states and the bad ideas will be discarded. But it appears there is less discarding of the dumb ideas than adding new ones. Once a state adopts something, there seems to be a tendency to maintain it, regardless of what the facts or experience of other states may show. Again, it’s part of that state pride phenomenon. “We like being different – in fact, we are proud of it.”
And the list of dumb things that might be adopted by a legislative body, all usually in the name of protecting the public, seems endless. You need examples? Here are a few from some various states, courtesy of www.dumblaws.com:
· Alaska - While it is legal to shoot bears, waking a sleeping bear for the purpose of taking a photograph is prohibited.
· California - No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.
· Florida - If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.
· Louisiana - It is illegal to gargle in public places.
· New York - A person may not walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in his/her pocket.
· Oklahoma - It is illegal to have the hind legs of farm animals in your boots.
I will refrain from sharing any dumb laws in Texas and allow you to research those on your own. Suffice it to say, we are not immune from this phenomenon in the Lone Star state.
In the current environment, a lot of folks are upset about government, especially in Washington. They think it is wasteful and not in touch with its citizens. Goofy laws like those above don’t help inspire confidence that our legislators know what they are doing. I am glad I am back in Texas where I can fill my own tank. I promise to be careful!