Legally Weird: Legislative Oddities Archives
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Legislative Oddities Category

NJ Legislators Consider Punishment for Distracted Walking

You are a product of your time and culture, so you too -- like just about everyone else -- walk around, distractedly, with a cell phone in hand and your face in a screen. As a result of your fascination with tech, you have become a menace on the streets.

Distracted walking is, in fact, a growing international problem as more people around the world grow engrossed with their phones, rather than paying attention to their surroundings. According to The Washington Post, there has been a rise in pedestrian deaths over the last decade, which is linked to the new devices we rely on. Now a new Jersey state assemblywoman is proposing a law that would fine the unfocused.

CA Congressman Puffs E-cig at Legislative Debate

Yesterday, California Congressman Duncan Hunter became the first US legislator to vape at a congressional hearing. Exhaling vapors from his e-cigarette during a debate on their use on planes held by the Transport Committee, Hunter explained the advantages of "vaping" over smoking.

"This is called a vaporizer," Hunter said, as his colleague beside can be seen waving the vapors around with her hand. Congresswoman Candace Miller's gesture is typically used to indicate how irritating cigarette smoke is to the person sitting by a smoker, but Hunter was unfazed and continued, "There's no combustion. There's no carcinogens ... Smoking has gone down as the use of vaporizers has gone up."

Lobbyists lobby -- they try to influence legislators to vote for their particular cause. This effort can include persuasive argument, fundraising assistance, or even campaign committee contributions. Outright gifts are strictly limited and must be reported.

A new Missouri law may require lobbyists to report sex with state legislators as a "gift" under state lobbying statutes. This shines a whole new light on lobbying in The Show Me State.

Ah, New York City. The Big Apple. The Five Boroughs. The Modern Gomorrah. Home of constitutionally-protected sex shops, topless ladies, and gigantic sodas. The City That Never Sleeps is truly a wonderland for all the heart and stomach desire. Except salt.

NYC is requiring restaurants to add a new warning label for any menu item that contains too much salt, but restaurants are not going along without a fight. The National Restaurant Association sued the City, saying health regulators are overstepping their bounds and getting the science wrong. So who's going to win this epic battle between city and sodium?

Butt Dials: a Big Pain for 911 Dispatchers

Last year Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly suggested that half of the nation's 911 calls were no emergency. Now researchers have confirmed that there is something to this statement, in San Francisco at least.

Pocket dials -- also known by the more crude appellation "butt dials" -- make up almost one third of the city's emergency calls, according to data from Google researchers shadowing dispatchers. Emergency line operators said these accidental calls were the biggest "pain point" in their day.

The hottest trend in avoiding the IRS has people bailing on the United States altogether. From Facebook co-founders to Massachusetts socialites, thousands of Americans are renouncing their citizenship to lighten their tax burden.

And it turns out a law aimed at reducing the number of offshore accounts has also reduced the amount of American citizens.

Despite not being a selfie at all, so-called "ballot selfies" are now legal in New Hampshire. A federal judge struck down the state's ban on posting photographs of filled-out voting ballots, which are obviously not the face of the person taking the picture.

The judge overturned the law on free speech grounds, which apparently means everyone is free to call any old photo a "selfie" these days.

Have you ever claimed your tea cup chihuaha as a service animal when you don't actually have any disability? Well, don't. You could be thrown in jail.

Florida's law criminalizing false service animal claims took effect today. The problem with laws is that they usually don't make exceptions for lighthearted pranks, even when cute animals are involved.

Is it Illegal to Own a Fox?

Most people are dog or cat people, but some people want something a little more exotic, like a oh, we don't know, a monkey, or a parrot, or hey, how about a fox?

Is it legal to own a fox as a pet?

"I'm going to cut your hair, give you an atomic wedgie, and steal your lunch money! Haha. JK. Smiley face. Smiley face." Did the "JK" and smiley faces make the comment less of a threat?

California judges don't think so. A threat is a threat regardless of smiling emojis.