What abolishing Missouri's mover licensing cartel has meant

March 14, 2013 | By TIMOTHY SANDEFUR

The Missouri Department of Transportation issued its annual report in January, which among other things talks about how long it takes to get a license to operate a moving company. You can compare it to last year’s report. Now, remember that we sued the state to challenge the constitutionality of its mover licensing law, and in August of last year, the state legislature repealed that law, replacing it with a strongly pro-competitive system.

The previous year’s report says that “the application process for transportation of passengers in non-charter service and for household goods is heavily regulated, resulting in longer application pending times. These customers must provide financial information and go through a 15-day notice registry process whereupon other authorized carriers can intervene and request denial of authority. If an application is intervened upon, the application is forwarded to the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission for a hearing.” As a result of these restrictions,

Authority to operate for-hire in intrastate commerce was granted to 6 applicants during the fourth quarter of 2011 for non-streamlined applications [that is, applicants not exempted from the law we challenged]. The average pending time of [passenger service] applicants was 310 days. Authority was granted to 4 [moving company] applicants…. One of these 4 applicants was intervened upon, which resulted in a case being filed with the Administrative Hearing Commission. This applicant experienced a pending time of 1,119 days…. Applicants requesting authority to transport household goods experienced an average pending time of 154 days. The excessive pending time is a result of time needed to experience the notice register process and gather statements supporting a need for the requested service.

This year’s report is different. It doesn’t separate “streamlined” and “non-streamlined” applicants, because everybody is streamlined now:

Authority to operate for-hire in intrastate commerce was granted to 93 applications during the fourth quarter. The average MO-1 pending time experienced by these applicants was 19 days. This is the same pending time experienced in the previous quarter. Applicants who experienced a pending time of greater than 19 days were for filings of insurance (24) application corrections (6) and payment (2).

It’s too early yet to draw conclusions about whether the repeal has resulted in an increase in the number of moving companies (although it’s hard to imagine that it hasn’t). But the waiting time to get your license as a moving company has gone down from an average of half a year (for movers) and almost a full year (for passenger services) to an average of less than three weeks. I think I’d call that progress.