Every state has strange laws on the books. They are usually not applied and not even well known, but can be good for a laugh. For example, in Montana, if you start performing on stage, you have to finish the performance – you can’t stop halfway. West Virginia can fine a person $ 1 for insulting. Neighboring Wisconsin makes selling homemade cakes and cookies a criminal offense.
Minnesota doesn’t have such weird laws, but we do have some unique ones. To get an overview, I spoke to Barbara J. Weckman Brekke, lawyer and founding partner of Brekke, Clyborne & Ribich, LLC, in Shakopee and a county commissioner representing Scott County District 1.
Minnesota Law 145.365, enacted in 1982, declares that it is illegal “to import or export a live skunk out of this state, for sale, barter, exchange, or gift for any purpose. that is “. It is also illegal to “acquire, sell, barter, trade, donate or buy live skunks”. There is an exception for zoos and circuses. The law appears to be designed to protect people from rabies.
âThe fact that it’s in the public health law and it says that live skunks make it more interesting,â Brekke said. âThere must have been a skunk trade in Minnesota that was causing such problems that a law had to be passed. There is probably no reason to get rid of it now. The only surprise is that other animals weren’t added to the list.
Minnesota Law 169.22 states that “No one shall stand on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of a private vehicle.” âIn non-legal, it prohibits hitchhiking.
âIt goes back to 1937 and it was the same session with laws that made a lot of references to horse-drawn cars and tractors,â Brekke said. “This law probably gave law enforcement the ability to remove people from the road, or arrest or impose fines.”
In Minnetonka, it is illegal under public nuisance laws to drive a truck or other vehicle with wheels or tires depositing mud, dirt, sticky substances, trash, or other materials on a vehicle. street or highway.
“The neighbors were probably calling the town hall and complaining about the mud or manure left on their street,” Brekke explained. “The city needed a way to be able to fine the people who did this.”
Minnetonka is also prohibited by law from not neatly stacking your woodpile.
âPeople at the local level sometimes defend these kinds of laws,â said Brekke. âI worry every time we try to encroach on someone’s property. “
The good news for Shakopee is that our town doesn’t have onerous codes or laws like Minnetonka. However, Brekke noted that we have a code that makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle on private property in order to avoid a traffic light.
âWhen I read this I was like, ‘Wow. We must have had an intersection where people were crossing private property several times. The code is very precise. The city had to make an order just for the police. can verbalize the person, “she said.” Otherwise it could be an intrusion or rather a civilian problem. I think it had to be passed so that the police could arrest someone. “
Minnesota had weirder laws, but a previous governor and legislature removed many of them.
âIn 2014, I’m pretty sure there were over 1,000 laws taken off the books,â Brekke said. âSome were really archaic. One of those laws stated that if a feral hog went wild in Ramsey or Hennepin County, the Agriculture Commissioner was tasked with rounding it up. It was an old law, and it made you think, “How did this law come about?” It had probably been on the books for over 100 years.
She said people often turn to their city council or lawmakers for laws designed to solve a problem. The downside is that laws can create other problems.
“People often want laws to be enacted, but I hope most policymakers are hesitant because you see some of these old laws being enacted for very specific reasons, and then it is very difficult to get rid of them when. ‘they are being applied differently than expected,’ said Brekke. âMy personal opinion is that we should try other means before we try to create a new law. We see a lot of unintended consequences when we put the law in place. We sometimes see amendments to change the law because it was not perfect, such as labor laws which can be quite complicated.
It should be noted that there are several websites touting the so-called Minnesota laws which are fun, but there is no evidence that they are or ever were laws. Common culprits include women who are not allowed to cut their hair without their husbands’ permission, a person who is not allowed to cross state borders with a chicken or squirrel on their head, he It is illegal to hang men’s and women’s underwear on the same clothesline, and not to be able to eat burgers on Sundays in St. Cloud.
âIt’s a good reminder that not everything we read on social media is true,â said Brekke.
Brett Martin is a guest columnist who has lived in Shakopee for over 15 years.