When running a business, you have a lot to worry about. Between dealing with business finances, credit scores, and actually running your business, you may not have taken the time to read local and state laws that may impact your business. Make sure your business is compliant with all local laws, no matter how silly they seem. Here is a list of some local regulations we were able to dig up that may impact your business.
1. Computer repair requires a private investigator’s license in Texas
In college, I was the nerdy guy on the dorm floor that everyone came to with computer questions. I never charged, but had I lived in Texas and asked for money, I would have been breaking the law. Well, only if I did so without a private investigator’s license that requires a specialized college degree or three-year apprenticeship.
Repairing computers without meeting this ridiculous, irrelevant requirement can lead to a $4,000 fine or a year in jail! So, don’t rush to help the little old lady get the virus off her computer for $20 per hour if you live in Texas, or you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
2. No beer and pretzels in North Dakota
Beer and pretzels go together like milk and cookies, but not if you live in America’s 4th smallest state by population. LawGuru shares that in North Dakota bars and restaurants cannot server both beer and pretzels at the same time. Bar and restaurant owners beware!
It is also illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on in North Dakota, but it is likely that law is not enforced to the same extent as the beer and pretzel law. Nebraska has a similarly perplexing law that forbids bar owners from selling beer unless they also have a kettle of soup brewing on the premises.
3. Bloggers in Philadelphia must pay a $300 license fee
In Philadelphia, all businesses must pay a $300 one-time license fee, or $50 per year, to operate a local business. This makes sense in many cases, but recently the law was enforced on bloggers, including music blogger Sean Barry, who had only earned $11 over the last two years.
Business license requirements are common, but sometimes they pop up in unexpected ways, such as this Philadelphia rule. In this case, the city used IRS tax records to enforce the regulation when it matched Federal tax payments to local reporting.
4. You need to be rich to close a business in Milwaukee
In most states, closing a business is a de-facto process if you do not renew your business license. Other states require a fee to legally close your business, which can often be completed with a simple web form. But if you live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, expect a very different experience closing down.
If you want to shut down in Milwaukee, you will need to present CPA certified paperwork, pay a fee to the city, and pay a tax of $2 per $1,000 in remaining inventory. Jason Adkins at the Wisconsin Law Journal calls this a “failure tax” that “serves no public good other than providing a revenue stream for the city.”
5. Sourcing your product from the next county over
In Lake Elmo, Minnesota, farmers can only sell pumpkins and Christmas trees grown inside of Lake Elmo city limits. If you were to buy pumpkins from another city or county, or even worse import from another state or country, you will find yourself on the wrong side of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.
The current administration in Washington is talking about adding massive tariffs that would drive up costs for American consumers while creating a preference for domestic goods. This local law takes protectionism to an extreme.
6. Be careful what you call yourself in Texas
We return to the Lone Star State for another stupid business law, this time in the interior design industry. In Texas, you can do interior design work but cannot refer to yourself as an “interior designer” or describe your work as “interior design” without the right license.
I understand the need to license doctors, finance professionals, lawyers, and other professions that have life and death and other serious ramifications to the customer. But I would argue that getting an ugly couch and bad paint color is not quite as delicate. But in Texas, that opinion is worthless. Interior design requires a license and is heavily regulated in this state. I guess getting Royal Blue instead of Sea Blue could cause serious distress.
7. Take down your Christmas decorations on time in Maine
Our next silly law impacts both businesses and individuals in Maine. I have had countless conversations joking about neighbors who need to take down their Christmas lights in January or February, but never thought we needed a law about the lights people put on their businesses and homes. But in Maine, those Christmas lights must be down by January 14.
Businesses may argue that they are advertising lights into the Spring, but if regulators disagree, you may end up a hardened criminal, according to DumbLaws.com.
8. Drink limits in Nevada
After a few minutes on the Las Vegas Strip, it seems that anything goes. But if you are on a trip to Sin City for fun or a conference, it is against the law for a man to buy a round of drinks for more than three people at a time.
I recently attended a conference in Las Vegas where this law was likely broken hundreds of times. Who knew?
9. Beware the humming beautician
Connecticut has some strangely strict business regulations. Beauticians in the town of Waterbury need to be particularly careful, however, as it is illegal for any beautician to whistle, hum, or sing while working on a customer. So, whatever tune is stuck in your head, leave it in the car when you walk into the salon or you may unwittingly break the law.
This article was originally written on July 20, 2017.