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Prohibition Has Ended but Old Laws Persist

April 14, 2014 - 6:00pm

Legislators gotta legislate. But it would be nice if they would unlegislate more often.

For example: females can't do their own hair in Oklahoma unless licensed by the state, according to the Huffington Post.

There are a number of other Web sites that claim to list outdated laws or laws that make no sense.

According to some of these sites, it is illegal in Florida, somewhere, to shower while naked. And in one Oregon town, apparently the First Amendment has been repealed because it's illegal to whisper dirty words during sex.

Until the Supreme Court knocked it down 40 years ago, it was illegal in New Orleans to be rude to firefighters who were fighting a fire.

Beacon, N.Y., protects its citizens from the evil game of pinball.

Shoes with heels more than 2 inches high or with less than a 1-square-inch base are a no-no in Carmel, Calif. This one actually makes some sense. Carmel residents are reluctant to make trial lawyers richer via slip-and-fall cases. Still, it is rarely enforced and in any case you can get a free permit at City Hall to wear high heels.

But there is a law in Florida that makes just about as much sense as some of these examples.

It is why some Walmarts, Targets and Publix stores in Florida have two entrances -- because a wall of separation is mandated by government between areas for the general public including those buying wine and beer and those who want to indulge in Demon Rum.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has introduced a bill to remove this law from the books. It is supported by Floridians for Fair Business Practices and was up for debate in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee Thursday but was temporarily passed.

Competition being what it is, competitors of the stores seeking the change rather like the law as is. One liquor store chain warns that allowing liquor sales in stores could result in a parade of horribles, such as juveniles with altered IDs buying hard stuff. Oddly enough, that happens already usually in liquor stores, according to committee staff research.

But, the change in the law also would allow liquor stores to sell more grocery items.

Prohibition ended in 1933 but Florida has had this law since 1935 and is one of only 16 states with such laws, the coalition says.

It took years to do away with the blue laws that prohibited Sunday liquor sales, so it may take years to make this common-sense change. Still, one can hope.

Many other outdated and unnecessary laws and regulations undoubtedly remain on the books in state government. Lawmakers should require most of them to sunset expire every 10 years or so, or be justified for renewal.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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