There ought to be a law -- and there was, once

By The SE Texas Record | Mar 20, 2012

Did you know that shooting a buffalo from the second floor of a hotel is illegal in Texas?

Well, it is.

Milking a cow that doesn't belong to you is also against the law in these parts, as is taking more than three sips of a brewski while standing.

Maybe there was once a need for such laws, but surely they could be repealed safely now. It seems unlikely that decriminalization of these quaint crimes would provoke a sudden outburst of mezzanine ox-sniping or bovine milk-poaching.

As for the quaffer erectus, he's been rampant for years and we might as well accept him.

These are just three examples of dozens of silly laws on the books in Texas, most of which could be repealed without any harm because they haven't been enforced for years for good reasons.

It does make you wonder. If bad or silly prohibitions can continue to have the force of law long after their usefulness has expired, how is it that good laws get repealed in spite of their salutary effects?

Take the law against third-party financing of lawsuits, for instance.

Like most states, Texas used to have such a law, for good reason, and now it doesn't. The idea was to discourage frivolous lawsuits, protect the integrity of our judicial system, and keep unscrupulous lenders from preying on potential plaintiffs.

Massachusetts abandoned this wholesome proscription in 1997 and Texas soon followed the Bay State's bad example.

Now that we've relearned – the hard way – why such a law is necessary, maybe we can set about repealing the repeal and reenacting the original law.

Our neighbors to the north made the same mistake we did, but are already reforming their ill-conceived reform. A bill to prohibit lawsuit financing passed the Oklahoma Senate and should clear the House, as well.

It's a good law, similar to one they once had but foolishly abandoned – as did we.

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