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But that ruling did little to stop the march of restrictive licensing laws. In recent year, though, the tide has started to turn.
In 2007, Minnesota lawmakers eliminated a state law requiring new moving companies to give notice to existing companies.
A year later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a California state law for licensing pest control workers.
In 2009, the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged a similar law in Oregon on behalf of college student Adam Sweet and his start-up moving company, 2Brothers Moving. A federal judge declined to overturn the law, but the Oregon Legislature removed moving companies from the licensing requirement, though it remains in place for other types of carriers and taxi companies.
In 2012, Missouri lawmakers brought an end to a similar law that gave existing moving companies veto power over new applicants.
Missouri State Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), who sponsored the legislation that changed that law, said the old arrangement created some nonsensical loopholes for companies to operate.
New moving companies could obtain federal licenses, but faced a harder time obtaining state licenses, which could be blocked by existing companies.
As a result, some start-up companies could legally move a customer from inside Missouri to Kansas or Kentucky or elsewhere across state lines, but would be operating outside the law if they tried to move the same customer to a neighboring town in Missouri.
“It absolutely insane that we would forever enshrine certain businesses and make sure they would never get any competition,” Burlison said. “That’s not the role of government and it should never have been the role of government.”