Pa’s weirdest state law is even weirder than you think it is | Friday Morning Coffee

August 2, 2019 8:06 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It can safely be said that, among state capitals, Harrisburg can often be a weird and wondrous place. Thanks to its position as the seat of state government, it presents all sorts of delightful conundrums, like, “There’s really a company that makes Rep. Tony DeLuca’s suits?” and “The Selfie Caucus?‘ Seriously?”

The same holds true for the actual legislative process, a system so arcane and Byzantine that actual Byzantines think it gives them a bad rap. So it was kind of fun to stumble across a list, put together by the pop culture site, Thrillist,  running down the strangest laws in these 50 states.

We’re hoping we haven’t given too much away with the photo illustration above. But since we know you to be the savviest and most erudite audience of all newsletter subscribers, we’re just gonna go ahead and conclude that you figured it out on your own.

But in case you haven’t, according to Thrillist, Pennsylvania’s oddest state law is … an actual prohibition against catching a fish in your mouth?

“One of the popular-but-fake-sounding weird laws for Pennsylvania is that you can’t catch a fish with your mouth,” Thrillist’s Kastalia Medrano wrote. “Because I care, I went deep into the Gettysburg Times archives and found, from 2010, a reference to what is apparently still a very real law forbidding you from catching a fish in your mouth. Sometimes the internet is good.”

You’ve probably long since clicked through on that Gettysburg Times link, but in case you haven’t, the headline reads, “Quirky old laws clutter state’s books.” The rest, sadly, is pay-walled off.

We found what looked like corroboration in a story posted to the NBC-10 website. But it muddies, rather than clears, the waters.

In Pennsylvania, the story notes, “You may not catch a fish with your hands.” And it also observes that you  “may not catch a fish by any body part except the mouth.”

So … maybe it’s cool to catch a fish in your mouth … as long as you manage to bite its little fishlips?

That’s kind of terrifying.

The one thing that both Thrillist and NBC-10 agree on, however, is that you absolutely positively can’t catch fish using dynamite.

But according to the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission, which should know about these things, anglers are allowed, under certain circumstances, to use crossbows and longbows. And spears … if you’re a scuba diver. Because, of course.

Ahhh … Pennsylvania … don’t ever change.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Democrats in the state House and Senate asked Gov. Tom Wolf to declare a statewide emergency to help General Assistance recipients who lost benefits on Thursday. Stephen Caruso explains what’s happening.

On our Commentary Page, freshman state Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester,explains how and why the crisis at the southern border reverberates to Pennsylvania. And a UNC-Wilmington scholar goes deep on endowments at private universities.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to longtime Friend O’the BlogAndrew Seder, in the office of state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, who celebrated Thursday. And to longtime Harrisburg PR guy Steve Drachler, who celebrates today. Congrats, gents.

Heavy Rotation.
This is the most adorable song in the world. And if you aren’t smiling by the end of it, there’s something seriously amiss. From 1994, it’s ‘Accidentally, Kelly Street,’ by Aussie popsters Frente.

Friday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Every time we see the latest Orioles score these days, we’re reminded of an old ‘Peanuts’ cartoon, where Schroeder, as catcher, walks up to Charlie Brown on the mound ,and tells him the other team has figured out his signals.
“Oh no!” Charlie Brown exclaims, “You mean they know what I’m going to pitch?”
It’s far worse than that, Schroeder stoically confides,
“They no longer care what you’re going to pitch,” he says.
Which is a long-winded way of saying the Os got shellacked by the ‘Jays 11-2 on Thursday.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.