Some years ago, Raleigh started a moving business in Lexington called Wildcat Moving. What he didn’t know was that if you want to start a moving company in Kentucky, the law requires you to basically get permission from all of the state’s existing moving companies.
The law, called a Certificate of Necessity or CON law, works this way: to run a moving company, you need a license. But when you apply for a license, the law requires you to notify all the state’s moving companies and give them the chance to file an objection. And when an objection is filed, you have to go to a hearing and prove to the government that “existing moving services are inadequate,” and that a new moving company would be consistent with the “present or future public convenience and necessity.” What do these phrases mean? Nobody really knows. In fact, the chief lawyer for the state’s Transportation Cabinet testified under oath that there are “no objective criteria” for deciding what services are “inadequate.” And it’s hard to imagine how bureaucrats can predict “future public convenience.”
But one thing is clear: the law gives bureaucrats almost unlimited power to decide who can and who cannot run a moving business. In the past five years, there have been 39 applications for new moving licenses. Of those, 19 were subjected to protests by one or more existing moving companies, giving a total of 114 protests. You can see an example of a protest here. Note that it doesn’t even suggest that the applicant is unqualified or unsafe or untrustworthy. That’s typical; in fact, since 2007, [...]