Pacific Legal Foundation
Missouri’s moving-business cartel, challenged by PLF, is now officially repealed
Jefferson City, MO; July 11, 2012: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation this week repealing the state’s anticompetitive licensing law for moving businesses. The development marks the final victory in a pro-free-enterprise battle that began when Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys challenged the law’s constitutionality in June, 2010.
PLF’s federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of St. Louis businessman Michael Munie, triggered the introduction of HB 1402, a repeal measure sponsored by Representative Eric Burlison and Senator Bill Stouffer. The bill was passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the Missouri Legislature on May 30.
“This is a great day for entrepreneurs and a great day for consumers,” said PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur, the lead litigator in PLF’s Economic Liberty Project. “Missouri’s lawmakers showed they understand you can’t have prosperity without free and open competition and a fair chance for start-up businesses to get in the game. I’m proud to know that PLF and Mr. Munie have opened the road to economic opportunity.”
The licensing law that PLF challenged in federal court — and has now been repealed — blocked competition by giving existing moving companies the power to veto applications of start-up firms. Whenever someone applied for a license to run a moving company, the Missouri Department of Transportation was required to notify all existing moving businesses in the state and allow them to object. If even one firm objected, the newcomer was required to prove that a new moving company was “necessary.”
As with all PLF clients, PLF attorneys represented Munie without charge. Munie, whose St. Louis based ABC Quality Movers employs 15 people, held a federal license to operate across state lines, but when he applied for a license to serve customers throughout Missouri itself, he was hit with objections from four existing companies. Only when he scaled back his request — limiting his operations to the city of St. Louis — were the objections dropped.
PLF’s lawsuit argued that the restrictions violated Munie’s constitutionally guaranteed right to earn a living. “This law didn’t protect the public,” said Sandefur. “It only protected established businesses against fair competition.” After a federal judge rejected the state’s effort to dismiss the case, Senator Stouffer and Representative Burlison introduced their repeal legislation.
The repeal means that Munie — whose company is currently the top-rated St. Louis-area mover on AngiesList.com — will be free to operate statewide.
“I know the moving business inside out, and I shouldn’t have been prevented from serving the public by arbitrary rules that only serve to limit people’s choices and service options,” Munie said. “We should all be glad those rules have finally been taken off the books. I am also very grateful to Pacific Legal Foundation for championing my rights, and the rights of all entrepreneurs, in court.”
In addition to Sandefur, PLF attorneys Daniel A. Himebaugh and M. Reed Hopper also worked on the Munie litigation. Their efforts were assisted by Missouri activists Bruce Hillis and Ron Calzone.
PLF’s challenge to Missouri’s state-created moving-business cartel follows up on the Foundation’s successful litigation against a similar anticompetitive scheme in Oregon. After PLF challenged the Oregon law on behalf of a Portland entrepreneur, the restrictions were repealed by the Oregon Legislature.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is a legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and free enterprise in courts nationwide.