Alex McRae: Stupid statutes

Column by ALEX McRAE alex@newnan.com On New Year’s Eve, Americans bubbled over with excitement about the opportunities for peace, love, friendship and fortune that lie ahead. Then on Jan. 1 they awoke to find their future joy had been ambushed by a new crop of laws that would test the patience — not to mention the credibility — of a saint.
If your state has not dumped a load of stupid statutes on your head, be thankful. And in case you didn’t know just how stupid lawmakers at every level of government could get, consider these legal gems that are now in effect: Illinois lawmakers hoping to keep kids safe from perverts passed a law making it illegal for registered sex offenders to pass out candy on Halloween or dress up like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Now wackos will have to settle for dressing up like Batman characters and shooting up kids (and adults) in movie theaters. At least the kids won’t get acne from pervert-provided Halloween candy. As expected, California led the way in new laws, with 876 taking effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Some of the laws are what you’d expect from a state whose citizens just voted to raise their state income tax. For instance, California has made it legal for self-driving cars to operate on public streets as long as a human is in the passenger seat. You can look for this law to spread soon to Colorado and Washington, which just made it legal to smoke pot. Imagine having your car drive you to the convenience store for another bag of Doritos while you have both hands free to operate your bong. Like, awesome dude. Another new law makes it illegal to carry unloaded rifles on California city streets. The law is pretty clear. What isn’t are the exceptions, which allow people to carry unloaded rifles on city streets if they are engaged in hunting, target shooting or parades. Am I the only one who wonders how people engage in hunting or target shooting on city streets with an unloaded rifle. Maybe marijuana was legalized for California lawmakers, too, and I missed that one. But even in California, not all the new laws are stupid. Senate Bill 1221 says dogs can maul whomever or whatever they want if guarding crops or livestock, but can’t be used to hunt bears and bobcats. Fine with me. If a “hunter” needs a pooch’s help to take a bobcat or bear with a gun, it’s time to rack the rifle and play video games. One of the biggest head-scratchers is a law passed on behalf of the 8,100 residents of Wellington, Kan., that makes it illegal to own more than four cats. No one knows how that magic number of four felines was determined. Locals suspect the dog lobby was involved, since there are — so far — no limits on the number of dogs per domicile. It is also unknown how the law will be enforced. One local was reported to have said, “t]They can take my 20 cats as soon as they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. And toes. And sofas and chairs and beds and couches and settees and ottomans.” On the bright side, our national lawmakers did themselves proud, too. They started the new year off with a new law designed to keep us all from going over the so-called fiscal cliff by taxing the evil rich. Don’t worry, though. A new congressional report says poor people will start hiring huge numbers of unemployed. Just as soon as they win the lottery.


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