Nanny State Update: Sunscreen Bans and Gold Mining Moratoriums

While the nation celebrated the Fourth of July, Nanny State regulators continued their efforts to erode personal liberties, cracking down on hugging or sunscreen use in schools while banning flags on graves.  At the federal level, 1,102 pages of new rules and notices were added to the federal register along with 71 final rules regulating everything from the local avocado market in South Florida to the type of fishing equipment used off the coast of Alaska.

Fourth of July Banned After Sea Birds File Noise Complaint: If it weren’t enough that government taxes drive up the cost of celebrating the Fourth of July by almost 35 percent, in one Oregon town, federal wildlife regulators pressured local officials to cancel the celebration altogether. To the chagrin of the Depoe Bay community, concerns that the noise of the annual celebration might disturb local sea birds put an abrupt halt to their pre-Independence Day fireworks show.

Washington Children Exposed to Sunburn by School Sunscreen Ban: One Washington parent made national headlines this week after her daughters were prevented from putting on sunscreen at a school field day because they didn’t have a note from their doctor.  Sisters Violet and Zoe Michener of Tacoma, Washington received first and second degree burns after school officials denied them access to sunscreen while accompanying teachers lathered up nearby.  Apparently the hypothetical risk of allergic reactions trumped the very real risk of sunburn.

Ban-Happy California Legislature Continues Moratorium Spree: Even as California’s Foie Gras ban went into effect this weekend, the legislature was already back in action with a new moratorium – a ban on suction gold mining.  A budget rider brought the gold rush to an official close by extending the moratorium on suction dredging, the modern equivalent to panhandling.  Though dredging only filters existing river-bed back into the water, sponsoring members cite environmental concerns as the rationale for ending California’s longest profession.

Tennessee Cracks Down on Schoolyard Hugging: Late last week, the Tennessee House passed a law that would allow parents to sue teachers if they promote or condone “gateway sexual activity” by students.  The law’s proponent claim that such a measure will curb teen pregnancies, but the nebulous definitions provided by the statute make teachers potentially liable for even innocuous hugging or hand-holding during school days or at school dances.

Texas Town Bans Flags from Graveyards: As citizens of Mineral Wells, Texas celebrated Independence Day by remembering fallen heroes, they inadvertently ran afoul of a city ordinance prohibiting all flags at public graveyards.  Excessive adornment was causing the cemeteries to become “unsightly” prompting the blanket ban on all grave site decorations.  While flags were exempted from the ban on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, July 4th was not.  Public outrage and non-compliance with the ban continued throughout the holiday and the town has called a meeting to publicly discuss whether this flag-ban might soon be sent to the graveyard itself.

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