Oregon Repeals Moving-Business Cartel Law That Has Been Challenged by a PLF Lawsuit
Portland, OR; June 25, 2009: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed legislation yesterday to free the market for entrepreneurs in the moving industry, eliminating a decades-old rule that allowed existing moving companies to block applications for new licenses. The change came in response to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Portland business owner Adam Sweet, whose company, 2 Brothers Moving, employs five people in the Portland area.
“This is a great day for entrepreneurs throughout Oregon,” said Sweet. “The American dream has always been about economic opportunity and the chance to own your own business. I’m very grateful that the state chose to free the market.”
Sweet was represented in the lawsuit by attorneys from Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to defending economic freedom and private property rights in courts across the country. In January, Adam and PLF attorney Timothy Sandefur led a caravan of moving companies to the state capitol in Salem to demand the right to compete fairly.
“The old law basically said that when you apply for a license to operate a moving company, the Oregon Department of Transportation would notify all existing moving companies and allow them to object,” Sandefur explains. “Then the applicant would have to prove that there was a ‘public need’ for a new business – but nobody knows what ‘public need’ means.” As a result, existing moving companies were protected from competition, and could keep their prices high.
“The new law eliminates this requirement and says, as long as you pass a background check and have insurance, you can start a business without having to ask permission from your own competitors. This is a victory for hard-working wealth creators – and for consumers.”
Although Sweet’s lawsuit was filed in August, 2008, it was only in January, 2009, that the federal District Court in Portland refused the state’s request to throw the case out. Shortly afterward, legislators in the House and Senate introduced three bills to eliminate the unfair licensing requirement. The new law, HB 2817, eventually passed both the Senate and the House without opposition.
“We are very grateful to Representative Terry Beyer, Senator Rick Metsger, and Senator Larry George, and to all the legislators who helped to open economic opportunity for so many Oregonians,” Sandefur said. He was also thankful for the help of Steven Buckstein, founder of the Cascade Policy Institute, who testified in support of the bill before the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation and helped convince the committee to add language to the bill ensuring a level playing field for those seeking to enter the industry.
“I am delighted that state legislators and the Governor have now remedied a long-standing wrong by opening up the home moving industry to competition,” said Buckstein. “This is a great day for Oregon entrepreneurs, consumers, and the principle of economic liberty. It demonstrates that Oregon’s pioneer spirit is still alive and well.”
About Pacific Legal Foundation
PLF (www.pacificlegal.org) is the nation’s leading legal watchdog for constitutional principles of limited government, property rights, individual rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.