Governor Justice signs bill repealing West Virginia Competitor's Veto law

April 25, 2017 | By ANASTASIA BODEN

It’s a good day for economic liberty.  Governor Justice has signed SB 174—or as Arty Vogt calls it, “Stephanie’s law,”—which repeals West Virginia’s Competitor’s Veto statute.

PLF represented Arty in a lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s licensing scheme for movers, which allowed existing businesses to protest any new application for a license to run a moving company.  A protest subjected the applicant to a government hearing in which the applicant had to prove that there was a “need” for additional moving services—essentially, an impossible demand. The predictable result  was that no new application for a license to run a moving company has been approved in West Virginia in the past 10 years.

When Arty’s late wife Stephanie applied for a license on behalf of their Virginia-based moving company, she was protested and ultimately denied.  She wasn’t denied because she was unfit or unqualified to do the job—she was denied because West Virginia movers didn’t want to compete with her.  PLF sued, and the state responded by repealing the Competitor’s Veto law.  Yesterday, Governor Justice signed that repeal bill—Stephanie’s bill—into law.

From our press release:

“West Virginia is more free today because its cartel for the moving business has been repealed,” said Anastasia Boden, one of the PLF attorneys who filed the lawsuit that triggered the Legislature to repeal the competitor’s veto law.  “Formerly, anybody who wanted to start a moving business essentially had to ask their competitors for permission.  Now, the competitor’s veto has been lifted.  Anybody who wants to start a moving business need only have a truck, paint their name on the side of it, buy some insurance, and start packing boxes.  And that’s how it should be in a free, economically mobile society.”

Arty responded to the bill by saying, “My late wife Stephanie was the driving force in our effort to get our license in West Virginia.  But we were blocked by the state’s ‘Certificate of Necessity’ law, with existing moving companies vetoing our permit application.”

“I was determined to honor her memory by fighting in court to get this un-American competitor’s veto law struck down,” he said.  “I am grateful for Pacific Legal Foundation’s help in prodding state lawmakers to do the right thing.  I will always consider SB 174 to be ‘Stephanie’s Bill.’ This is a victory for her, and for everyone’s right to engage in honest free enterprise.”

As my colleague Larry Salzman put it: “It is for entrepreneurs and consumers, not bureaucrats, to decide how many moving businesses are needed in a state.”

Aided by local counsel Anthony Majestro, this is PLF’s fifth victory when challenging Competitor’s Veto laws across the country.  Four of our lawsuits resulted in legislative repeal (Oregon, Missouri, and Montana were the others), and a federal judge struck down a nearly identical law in Kentucky.

We’re going to relish our victory day, but there’s more work to be done.  We won’t stop until we get these irrational, unfair, anti-competitive laws struck down in every state where they exist.