Blocking New Movers: West Virginia the Latest State to Repeal Unconstitutional Anti-Competitor Law

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First, we saw it in Missouri, then in Kentucky. Then in Oregon and Pennsylvania.

One by one, states are repealing laws requiring new moving companies to obtain a special “Certificate of Need” permit before they open up shop.

What the heck is a “Certificate of Need”? Commonly referred to as “competitor’s veto” laws, these statutes have allowed existing moving companies to block new companies – read: new competition – from entering the marketplace. But now small moving company owners like Raleigh Bruner in Lexington and Cosmo and MaryAnne Losco in Philadelphia can operate without their competitors’ permission, thanks in part to the Pacific Legal Foundation’s fight against these unconstitutional laws.

West Virginia Movers. AP Photo/(Denis Poroy)

The latest case played out in West Virginia and involved a Virginia-based moving company – located just ten miles from the West Virginia border – that had been barred from performing moves into, out of or within West Virginia. With that state repealing their competitor’s veto law, plaintiff Arty Vogt (and a host of unnamed others) can now operate freely and, in accordance with the protections of the constitution, earn a living without undue government interference.

Usually, we hear a few words from the people who have been affected by the existence – and subsequent repeal – of these anti-competitor laws. This time we get a full-blown personal account of Mr. Vogt’s very personal struggle to exercise his right to earn a living. In Vogt’s own words:

In 2012 we received a letter from the state of West Virginia telling us that we did not have proper legal authority to service local and intrastate moves within that state. This was a devastating blow to our small border-town business. We received calls nearly every day from potential customers in West Virginia asking for help — customers we now had to refuse”

As revealed later in this story, thousands of dollars in legal fees and jumping through the regulatory hoops didn’t help.

“Even though we were professionally qualified to provide the service, had a federal license to do interstate moves, and had never had a complaint, these factors didn’t overcome protests from the existing moving companies, who claimed they could handle the business without us. Remarkably, the major protest came from a large moving company with its nearest local office 150 miles from the area in which we operated.”

But this is America. And in the end, the Constitution – and Arty Vogt – won out.

Unfortunately, as the PLF states at the end of their own piece on Vogt and West Virginia, many states still have similar anti-competition laws on their books, applied to many industries, not just ours.

And so the fight for free enterprise, and thus more moving competition, rolls on.

Free Enterprise & Competition: A Case Study

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“A merchant who approaches business with the idea of serving the public well has nothing to fear from the competition.” – James Cash Penney

Photo of Freedom Written on a Wall

Photo Credit to Martin Burns

America, as we all have heard, is the land of the free. America is also a nation, not of men, but of laws. The challenge, sometimes, is sorting it all out when these two ideas collide.

When Raleigh Bruner of Wildcat Moving LLC tried to open up operations in the Lexington, Kentucky area he ran into a roadblock in the form of a state law that ‘essentially gave moving companies a veto over new competition.’

Yes, this sounded strange to us too. (more…)

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