Lincoln, Neb.—Gov. Pete Ricketts signed legislation that repeals a requirement that moving companies get permission from their competitors before they can open a new business. The so-called “certificate of public convenience and necessity” requirement gave existing moving companies the opportunity to formally object to new entrants and keep them out of the market. Unfortunately, the bill was watered down before passage allowing another anticompetitive measure to remain law and leaving an Omaha entrepreneur to continue his legal battle to offer non-emergency medical transportation.
“Nebraskans looking to move around the corner or across the state will find it a little easier and less expensive to hire a moving company now,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Legislative Counsel Meagan Forbes. “Allowing existing companies to use the law to keep out their competitors never made sense. While we had hoped for broader reform, the new law is a win for common sense and economic freedom. We congratulate legislators and the Platte Institute, which supported the bill and has long fought against laws that hold back entrepreneurs in Nebraska.”
LB 461 repealed the certificates of public convenience and necessity requirement for household good movers, for transporting railroad crews and for agritourism. However, the bill as introduced in 2019 also ended the same requirement for non-emergency medical transport and taxis. In April 2020, Marc N’Da, owner of Dignity Home Care, teamed up with IJ to file suit asking Nebraska courts to strike down the law for violating the state’s constitution.
Dignity Home Care offers home health care in metro Omaha and Lincoln. Marc’s business can transport home health patients on common errands, such as grocery shopping. However, taking these patients to the pharmacy or a doctor appointment is classified as non-emergency medical transportation and requires the certificate. In 2017, Marc applied and was found by the state to be “fit, willing, and able” to provide service but was denied the certificate after existing companies objected to his application.
“Marc’s employees can drive patients to Walmart but not the Walmart pharmacy. That makes no sense,” said IJ Attorney Will Aronin. “It’s good that the Nebraska Legislature eliminated a state-created cartel for movers, but it still left in place another for non-emergency medical transport. Neither law squares with the Nebraska Constitution and Marc is going to continue his fight to grow his business and help his patients.”
Nebraska’s certificate of convenience and necessity law grants extraordinary power to a handful of companies, allowing them to protect their private interests. Marc’s suit maintains that the law violates three different provisions in the Nebraska Constitution: the prohibition on special legislation, the guarantee of due process of law, and the prohibition on granting special privileges or immunities.
The Institute for Justice is a nonprofit public interest law firm that fights for the right to earn an honest living. IJ is currently challenging medical certificate of need laws in Kentucky and North Carolina. IJ also has a long history of challenging transportation cartels across the country.