Author: Timothy Sandefur
February’s issue of The Oregon Commentator—the University of Oregon’s conservative student magazine—carries an article about businesses challenging intrusive occupational licensing laws. (Page 26). As author Ross Coyle explains,
In several cases, occupational licensing has been used to cut out competition entirely.
One such case happened in Portland, when a PSU student’s moving business was shut down. The student, Adam Sweet, was fined $2,100 and had his truck towed for failure to carry an “Oregon Intrastate Certificate to Transport Household Goods or Passengers.” His vehicles were seized in a sting arranged by the Oregon Department of Transportation, and involved a handful of police and tow trucks. “Even now, I’m paranoid about the people I talk to. I have to wonder if they’re a customer or the state trying to trick me,” said Sweet. “People who don’t do things wrong shouldn’t have this fear.”
To attain a certificate, Oregon law required Sweet to obtain approval from other moving businesses; the equivalent of asking the competition if he could enter the market. “People are smart in this state, we don’t need licenses for businesses to protect the public,” Sweet said “Licensing is an ancient habit that should be removed.” Instead of submitting to the law, Sweet fought it, taking his case to the Pacific Legal Foundation. PLF fought the law on his behalf and claimed in their suit that it violated his 14th Amendment rights. They argued that ORS 825.110, which requires the certificate, imposed on anti-competitive and protectionist procedures on new moving companies. The PLF won the suit, and the law was repealed on June 24, 2009.