Weirdest Laws In Iowa

Iowa has so much more to offer than the cornfields that you might associate with this state. The Maquoketa Caves State park leaves visitors in awe, while the activities along the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River to the west will always make for fun and adventure. And if you're wanting a more urban environment, the city of Des Moines has arts and entertainment districts, great restaurants for foodies, and boasts of some of the best breweries in the Midwest (per The Tourist Checklist).

Nestled in the heart of the United States, Iowa remains an inexpensive and safe place to raise a family or retire. What's so weird about that?

You'll find that every state has its level of oddities and weirdness, and some of the laws in Iowa are proof of this. Let's take a close look at some of the weirdest laws the Hawkeye State still has as enforceable.

There's no ice cream man in these parts

Sometimes, it's the smaller communities that have the most particular laws. Local zoning and city codes help mold the community into the way that local citizens wish to live. Whether it's an ordinance restricting what kinds of trash cans you can leave out for pickup, or it's a mandate on how high you can allow your lawn to grow, the local powers that be write their laws to reflect the wants and demands of the people that elect them.

We've found that it's the local laws that can sometimes be the most restrictive, as well as among the weirdest. In Mount Vernon, for example, you are expressly forbidden to pick any flowers from any local park. This small town also makes you get the city council's permission before you throw a rock or brick onto a roadway (via Stupid Laws). 

In the hamlet of Marshalltown, things get a little weirder. In this community, it's illegal to let your horse eat a fire hydrant. Were these fireplugs once built using oats?

And in Indianola, Iowa, the ice cream man and his truck are nowhere to be found. A local law banished both the man and his musical truck years ago.

Better shave that 'stache

Lawmakers within the state of Iowa at some point seemed to focus on the act of kissing. One law was passed that prohibited a kiss from lasting more than five minutes (per Stupid Laws). An even stranger law makes it illegal for a mustachioed man to kiss a woman in public. We're not sure if anyone was on hand to break the bad news to Tom Selleck. 

Mustache or not, a city ordinance in Ottumwa forbids men to wink at women in public that they do not know (via Only in Your State). Of course, it's kind of a creepy gesture, but it makes you wonder why they felt the need to make it illegal.

Are you a medical professional that has recently treated a person for gonorrhea? According to the public health codes, you must immediately report the case to the local board of health. Included in your report should be the disease's origin. Consider it a form of contact tracing for those who are passing along venereal diseases. Maybe this law isn't such a bad one after all.

Iowa has some weird alcohol laws

State law can be a bit overreaching as well. If you own a bar or any establishment that sells intoxicating liquor or beer, you are not legally allowed to consume such beverages on premises after closing hours (via Stupid Laws). This law applies to employees of such places as well. Speaking of alcohol, if you are a minister in the state, you'll be glad to know that you are still able to legally imbibe. However, before you plan on taking your favorite bottle across state lines, know that a special permit must be issued by the state authorities. 

The state of Iowa is also very particular about how certain items are farmed. If you are picking hops, the box you place them into must be of certain dimensions. To be legal, it must be 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 23 1/4 inches deep. Don't say you weren't warned.

Planning on hunting from an airplane or helicopter? Sorry to ruin your plans. Lawmakers in Iowa made this illegal quite some time ago. No word on whether you are still able to legally fish from one, though.

No tipping?

If you have one arm, you can legally play the piano. But you cannot charge for your services, as you need both arms to be able to be paid for playing (per Only in Your State).

An old state law makes it illegal for anyone to accept a gratuity (via Stupid Laws). But let's keep that a secret. Your penny-pinching relatives don't need legal justification for stiffing wait staff.

Planning on selling illegal drugs for a profit? You'd better get the official tax stamp from the state first, or you might be in some huge trouble.

Only a real jerk would illegally park in a handicapped zone. But you'd be king of the jerks if you used a dead person's handicapped tag or sticker to try to get away with it. In Iowa, this must have been a problem at some point because they took the time to write a state law disallowing it.

Finally, state officials felt a need to create yet another board. This time, it was for the regulation of hearing aids, of all things.

Routine revision of the law is important

The laws that govern us are a representation of who we are as a community. While laws and ordinances are meant in part to help safeguard people and their property, the same system of law and order can sometimes be used to opress and discriminate. Whether this is due to ignorance, fear, or greed on the part of the people in charge, in our system it's a relief to know that these laws can be revised, amended, or even eradicated from legal code entirely. 

Even though the laws in this article fit the criteria for weird and make for an entertaining read, they also show the importance of any legal body to routinely reveiw the laws that they are charged with enforcing. While this process can take some time and dedication, it's an important part of keeping up a system that has a living legal code that is used to govern.