AUSTIN, Texas — When the 2023 session of the Texas Legislature opened this week in Austin, it was another case of our law-making body facing 21st-century problems under a state constitution that’s 147 years old.
The legislature meets only every other year while most state legislatures in the U.S. meet every year.
Add to that the fact that the Texas legislative session is relatively brief for a state so big and with so many challenges. Lawmakers meet for just 140 days, while most other state lawmakers meet anywhere from six months to a full year.
However, Texas lawmakers can be called back to Austin by the governor for a special legislative session.
And while a lot of the state’s business still manages to get done, throughout Texas history what counted as important state business now seems, well, weird.
Here are a few of strangest laws approved by the Texas Legislature in days gone by:
Did you know that it’s illegal in Texas to shoot a buffalo from a second-story hotel window?
And unless you have a $5 permit, you’re not technically allowed to walk around barefoot in Texas.
There’s a Texas law that bans the entire Encyclopedia Britannica because it contains a formula for making beer at home.
And there’s another Texas law that says if criminals intend to commit a crime, they are supposed to give their victims oral or written notice 24 hours in advance.
There’s even a law against milking another person’s cow.
Finally, one of the weirdest things the Texas Legislature did in 1971 was to unanimously approve a resolution honoring Albert de Salvo for being an exemplary citizen. De Salvo was also known as the "Boston Strangler," who killed a number of women in New England.
The lawmaker who got that resolution approved said he did it as a joke and quickly withdrew it.
Perhaps it was a good example of why it’s important to know what you’re voting on.