Company founders speak with Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship about the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the Windy City
Chicago, Ill.—”How’s business?” is the simple question that kicks off each episode of a new podcast series from the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago (IJ Clinic). The answers from business owners are different each time, yet similar challenges of operating in the Windy City come up time and time…
Rhode Island became the latest state to deregulate hair braiding thanks to a bill signed Monday by Gov. Gina Raimondo. Previously, braiders could only work if they first obtained a hairdresser license, which takes at least 1,200 hours, far more than what’s required to become a licensed emergency medical technician. Tuition to attend a cosmetology school in Rhode…
Arlington, Va.—Today, a federal judge in Georgia ruled that a lawsuit challenging the city of Doraville’s use of traffic tickets and other fines to generate revenue may go forward. The lawsuit was brought by two Doraville homeowners and two others who commute through Doraville. These plaintiffs partnered with the Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit,…
A divided court holds the state’s Open Records Act does not apply to the Georgia General Assembly or its offices.
Atlanta, Ga.—Does the term “every state office” include the offices of the Georgia General Assembly? According to an opinion released yesterday by the Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, the answer is “no.” The decision comes in the case of Institute for Justice v. Reilly, a lawsuit filed by the Institute for…
Vegan food company Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association fight for First Amendment right to use terms consumers understand
Jackson, Miss.—All of the food Upton’s Naturals sells in Mississippi is proudly labeled as vegan. Even though no reasonable consumer would think Upton’s Naturals foods contain meat, a new labeling law would require the company to either stop selling in the state or change its labels to be less clear. On July 1, Mississippi’s new…
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that stops the Internal Revenue Service from raiding the bank accounts of small-business owners. The Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act, part of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 3151) that Congress passed unanimously, is named after Institute for Justice clients Jeff Hirsch and Randy Sowers, two victims of…
Decision upholds state’s ability to “police for profit”
Late yesterday, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that police and prosecutors can keep and use the money they seize, rather than transferring the money to the state’s Common School Fund. The decision contradicts a state constitutional requirement that “all forfeitures which may accrue” must be paid into a fund for the benefit of public education.…
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
In March 2017, Phil Parhamovich, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin, was pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and pressured into signing a pre-printed waiver that stated he was “giving” his $91,800 in cash to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
Fortunately, after the Institute for Justice took his case, law enforcement returned all of the cash they had wrongfully taken from Phil.
After completing his military service as an Army Ranger, Jon McGlothian of Virginia Beach, Va., became a PMP-certified project manager. But Jon can’t advertise to the public or take on individual students because his school isn’t licensed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the largest in terms of population in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million Catholics and 219 parishes. The Archdiocese is fighting a New Jersey law that makes it a crime to sell monuments, such as headstones, to their parishioners.
Ilumi has worked with children since she came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 1995. Although she has a Child Development Associate credential (“CDA”) and was trained as a lawyer in her home country, Ilumi does not have the associate’s degree now required under District of Columbia’s new regulations.
Mary Lou Wesselhoeft and her husband Paul Wesselhoeft own Ocheesee Creamery, a small creamery in the Florida Panhandle. Because of the all-natural dairy philosophy that Mary Lou follows, she added nothing to the creamery’s skim milk. But a state agency wants her to use a confusing and misleading label that labels the milk something it is not: “Non-Grade ‘A’ Milk Product, Natural Milk Vitamins Removed.”
Chris is one of the owners of White Cottage Red Door in Door County, Wisconsin. When the small business opened a food truck in its parking lot, the Town of Gibraltar’s board, chaired by a local restaurant owner, promptly banned all mobile businesses.
After eight years of working as a driver for Yellow Cab, Ken Leininger decided to start his own business. But when Ken tried to get permits for his new business early last year, Little Rock denied his applications.
A registered nurse and grandmother from Katy, Texas, Anthonia had over $40,000 in cash seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She was heading to Nigeria and planned to use the money to help family and to built a new medical clinic. Anthonia is now the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against CBP’s policies of seizing cash and demanding owners waive away their constitutional rights to recover their money.
Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch owned Bi-County Distributors Inc., a small distribution business in Long Island, N.Y. The IRS used a legal process called civil forfeiture to seize their entire bank account—more than $446,000—even though they had done nothing wrong. After the brothers filed a lawsuit, the IRS returned their hard-earned cash.
Russ Caswell and his family have owned and operated the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass., for two generations. The Caswells nearly had their property taken from them by local and federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Pat Raynor, a lifelong hairstylist, became interested in working from home after her husband Harold passed away in 2009. But under Nashville’s ban on home-based businesses, Pat was forced to shut down her home hair salon.
IJ client Elmer Kilian has been preparing taxes for the past 30 years on his dining room table. He fought and successfully defended his right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS.
Sage Lewis pioneered an innovative community for the homeless on his commercial property at 15 Broad Street in Akron, Ohio. His nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, provides tents, food, showers, computers, and other resources to 44 residents. But Akron is trying to eliminate his work through the city’s zoning code.
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
Robert Martin operates the Red’s Comfort Foods food truck and offers specialty gourmet hot dogs and sausages in Louisville, Kentucky. The city’s 150-foot ban makes it difficult for Robert to operate his Red’s Comfort Foods food truck in Louisville because the law creates no-vending zones that extend 150 feet around every restaurant, café and eating establishment in the city. In fact, Robert was even cited in 2015 for vending downtown within 150 feet of a restaurant.
Khalid (“Ken”) Quran moved to America in 1997, and now runs a convenience store in Greenville, N.C. But the government seized his entire bank account—more than $150,000—even though he was never charged with a crime.
Inspired by France’s wine-growing regions, Nan Bailly’s father started Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Minnesota’s oldest operating farm winery, in 1973. Nan has continued her father’s legacy, making Minnesota wines with her vineyard’s grapes and other locally-sourced ingredients. She would like the freedom to offer new and greater varieties of blended wine to the public without worrying about an arbitrary limit on how many of her grapes crossed Minnesota’s border.
After working in the food service industry for several years, Troy King purchased his first food truck in 2014—a gourmet chicken food truck called Pollo. But in September 2016, Troy was operating Pollo in downtown Louisville when a city inspector threatened to issue a citation and tow his truck simply because Troy was serving customers within 150 feet a restaurant that also serves chicken. Troy was forced to abandon his vending location and his customers.
Michael Jensen would like Dr. Birchansky to perform his next needed eye surgery at the outpatient center next to Dr. Birchansky’s office because it is a safe, less costly, convenient, and familiar environment. Unfortunately Iowa’s CON law is denying him that choice.
Troy and Angela Nelson operate a small family farm in Palermo, Maine. They have two children, Alicia, who attends a nonreligious school, and Royce, who attends Temple Academy, a private, Christian school. Palermo won’t pay for Royce’s tuition, simply because he attends a religious school, even though its pays tuition for Alicia.
IJ client Jane Astramecki, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, runs a home baking business. But Minnesota’s restrictive cottage food law bans her from earning more than $5,000 a year and from selling her treats at venues other than farmers’ markets and community events.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
Kim Billups turned her lifelong passion for history into a fun tourism business called Charleston Belle Tours, where Kim could give in-character tours of the major sites in Charleston, SC in full period regalia.
Wendy trained as a makeup artist in Hollywood and has over 20 years of experience working with celebrities. But in Nevada, teaching others how to apply makeup without a government-issued license can subject you to up to $2,000 in fines.
Jeff has spent almost 30 years building a successful small business with his brothers, distributing candy, snacks and other goods to convenience stores throughout Long Island. But the government raided the business’s bank account using civil forfeiture—taking $446,000 and nearly destroying the family business. T