Jewish World Review June 29, 2004 / 10 Tamuz, 5764

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

There must be a law | Are you looking for a job where you can pass laws and inhale bus fumes at the same time?

If so, you may have what it takes to be a state legislator!

Yes, it's been another busy year in state capitols across America. In Kentucky, for example, the Legislature failed to pass a budget on time possibly because it was too busy debating a bill that would forbid humans and animals from being buried in the same cemetery. Demonstrating that Kentucky lawmakers have strong feelings about the separation of man and dog, the bill was overwhelmingly passed by the House 89-1 but has yet to be presented to the Senate.

In Mississippi, lawmakers drafted a bill that addressed the burning (chipping?) issue of fake fingernails on waitresses. I am not sure what prompted this bill. Perhaps a lawmaker found a fake nail in his grits one morning or got speared in the eye when his waitress presented him his check. The bill died in committee, but it is still law in Mississippi that waitresses address all customers, regardless of gender, as "hon."

The New Hampshire legislature, however, had bigger things on its collective mind than fake fingernails. It considered, but failed to pass, a bill that would have nullified the 16th Amendment, the one that gives the federal government the power to tax incomes. (I took a vote in my household and it was decided, unanimously, that we no longer wish to pay income tax. I can't imagine why the federal government would have any problem with that.)

The Florida Legislature would never waste its time on such frivolous things as fake fingernails or pet cemeteries, mainly because it's too busy approving new vanity license plates. The last time I checked, Florida had 88 different vanity or "specialty" license plates ranging from Large Mouth Bass to Agriculture to Golf Capital of the World. Nine Florida professional sports teams have their own license plate, as do 36 Florida colleges and universities. (While 88 vanity plates may seem like a lot, we have clearly overlooked several deserving candidates. I am thinking, specifically, of the love bug, the cockroach, the fire ant, the orange highway cone, the construction crane and, most necessary of all, the snowbird. While I am not a professional graphics artist per se, I'm thinking of a logo that involves a pair of sandals and black knee-high socks.)

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The other reason the Florida Legislature would not waste its time on frivolous bills is that there are already more than enough frivolous laws on the books. If you check out the Web site, which is guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate owing to the fact that it is found on the Internet, you will learn that you can be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer. (This is just one of many reasons why I never use one.)

I am, however, concerned about a law that makes it illegal for a man to be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown. (What, we're just doomed forever to have tan lines?)

You probably have not considered doing this, but in case you have, be advised that it is illegal in Florida to have sex with a porcupine. (There apparently is no law, however, about making whoopee with an alligator.)

This was probably more of an issue when Sarasota was a circus town, but in any event be warned that if you tie your elephant to a parking meter, you are expected to pay the same fee as you would for a vehicle. (Unless your elephant is equipped with the latest EPA-approved emission control system, you will also be expected to tidy up afterward with a snow shovel.)

Unless our modern legislators can demonstrate this kind of imagination when drafting goofy bills, I suggest they stick with balancing the budget.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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