May 1, 2014 is National Law Day.
Sound boring? Not at all! To whit: The wackiest laws in Minnesota.
Throughout the years, lawmakers have worked to eliminate some of the state's strangest and most outdated laws, including passing a law that outlaws silly laws, according to a story published in 1991 in the Session Weekly.
Gov. Mark Dayton during this legislative session also has taken aim at Minnesota's most ridiculous laws.
A look at a few:
– It's illegal to harbor a dirty threshing machine. It's illegal to impersonate a straw inspector. And growing a barberry bush – even for recreational use – could land you in jail in Minnesota, according to the Session Weekly.
– A Minnesota law from 1937 says it's illegal to drive a car in neutral, according to FOX 9. Dayton wants to throw out the law because it's impossible to drive a car in neutral.
– Minnesota law states that if a wild boar escapes in Minneapolis or St. Paul, the Commissioner of Agriculture himself must go out and capture it, according to the Associated Press.
– When any man and single woman have sexual intercourse with each other, each is guilty of fornication, which is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, state law says.
You can find hundreds of lists of silly laws with just a quick search on the Internet, but the Session Weekly, which quotes Steve Cross, who was the revisor of statutes for the Minnesota Legislature at the time, says many of the laws that seem ridiculous have been exaggerated.
Cross gives the example that if a website claims that a state law says it's illegal to have a giraffe in a ninth floor apartment, the law isn't likely written that way. Instead, it's likely an exaggerated interpretation of a municipal ordinance.
"You can go through all the law books you like and you'll probably not find anything pertaining to giraffes and tall buildings," Cross said in the release. "You will, however, find most cities have ordinances dealing with keeping wild or undomesticated animals inside the city limits."
That's probably how some of the exaggerated laws came to be well-known. So, before you believe a story about an odd Minnesota law, check out the state's Revisor of Statutes website to see if it's real.
Of course, that doesn't make potentially exaggerated, quirky laws any less fun to read about. The Keep Minneapolis Different blog has listed a few that we were unable to confirm are actual state laws, among them: It's illegal to cross state lines with a duck atop your head, and mosquitoes are considered a public nuisance – although there would probably be statewide agreement about that.
There are several sources, including a book on stupid laws in the Midwest, that say it's illegal to sleep naked in Minnesota. In a list published by Criminal Justice Degree Schools, it claims that if a woman impersonates Santa Claus in Minnesota, she could face up to 30 days in prison.
In 2013, USA Today published a list of strange tax laws across the country and another list of wacky state laws, which says that people in Collinsville, Illinois, could face a $300 fine for wearing sagging pants, and in Alabama it's illegal to wrestle a bear.
National Law Day was started by the American Bar Association to celebrate the law. President Barack Obama, a lawyer, officially proclaimed May 1, 2014 as National Law Day.