This afternoon, at the instigation of PLF’s lawsuit, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation repealing that state’s oppressive licensing law for moving companies. Under the old law, a person applying for permission to operate a moving company was required to submit to a licensing scheme under which existing moving companies were given the privilege of basically vetoing the application. We challenged that law on behalf of St. Louis entrepreneur Michael Munie, and argued the case in federal district court in April. But in the meantime, state lawmakers passed legislation repealing the law, and this afternoon, Governor Nixon signed that bill, thus opening the road for economic opportunity in the Show Me State.
Laws like the Missouri licensing law—called “certificate of necessity” laws—exist on the books in most states, regulating a wide variety of industries. Yet these laws do not even purport to protect consumers; they exist solely to protect established industries against fair competition form outsiders. As I explained in Regulation magazine some time ago, the Constitution forbids laws that restrict economic liberty simply to provide monopoly privileges to established companies. It’s time that all certificate of necessity laws were abolished. Missouri has joined Oregon in taking an important step toward guaranteeing the right to earn a living.
I want particularly to thank four people not affiliated with PLF without whom this could not have been accomplished: Missouri-based free market activists Bruce Hillis and Ron Calzone pushed for this bill to be passed, just as concerned citizens wanting the best for their state. State Representative Eric Burlison drafted and sponsored the legislation, and the Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore offered invaluable services as an expert witness in this litigation. I am grateful for their help.