Expanding a legal trail it began in other states, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in Reno on Thursday to throw out some of the state regulations governing moving companies.
The Sacramento, Calif.-based foundation, with its free-market orientation, attacked a section of Nevada law that requires new entrants into the market to demonstrate, among other things, that they “will not unreasonable and adversely affect other carriers operating in the territory” where the licence is sought. According to Timothy Sandefur, this amounts to the state enforcing a cartel through the Nevada Transportation Authority, which awards moving licenses.
However, authority chairman Andrew MacKay explained that the provision was enacted nearly a decade ago to require movers to draw up business plans with plausible markets. By law, incumbent companies cannot raise objections based on sharpened competition, he said.
Instead, the law was enacted as a consumer protection measure against fly-by-night operations because many of the state’s movers have only a couple of trucks and are not major national operations.
“I can’t recall ever turning anyone down,” said MacKay, who has been an authority commissioner since 2005.
Sandefur contended that the end result is almost besides the point.
“The law creates a process so burdensome and time-consuming that it creates a roadblock on its own,” he said.
The foundation took up the case of Maurice Underwood and his Reno Movers. While the company can pack items, load and unload trucks, according to the terms of its license, it cannot act as a driver.
Underwood started the company in 2004, going by the street name Man with a Van Moving Services, but was cited the next year for operating without a license. He paid the fine and obtained a partial license.
Last year, Underwood applied for a full moving license, but dropped the effort in July 2012. The foundation’s complaint said he was rejected, but MacKay said authority records show no decision was ever reached. Either way, this cleared the way for the foundation to launch the lawsuit.
It has undertaken similar cases in three other states, with one in Kentucky still underway. In the other two, Oregon and Missouri, the foundation claims credit for some liberalization of state laws.
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