Steve Buckstein Testimony in favor of HB 2817 before the Senate Business and Transportation CommitteeMay 4, 2009

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Chair Metsger and members of the Committee, my name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Portland. Our mission is to promote policies that enhance individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

When the media covers police sting operations against “illegal household movers” it may be time to look not just at the movers, but at the regulators who are supposedly there to safeguard the “public interest.”

When legitimate companies can’t get a license to move household goods because their competitors are, in effect, allowed to veto their applications, it may be time to change the laws that allow such unfair practices.

I like the fact that HB 2817 would eliminate the requirement that ODOT notify all existing movers of household goods that someone else wants to compete against them. This is clearly a step in the right direction since it reduces the government’s roll as protector of the status quo.

But the bill also states that ODOT “may” grant a license to a mover if it’s in the public interest. So, apparently even if granting a license is found to be in the public interest, ODOT can still turn down the applicant. The conclusion I draw is that this bill would still allow ODOT to substitute the private interests of existing movers for the broader interests of the general public.

When it comes to a choice of moving companies, we shouldn’t expect that a government agency will somehow know what is truly in the public interest. How can it know better than individual consumers whether it’s in their interests to have one more choice of moving companies? It can’t.

Therefore, I suggest that you amend the bill to really put the public first by stating that ODOT “shall” grant the license unless there is clearly some health or safety reason not to.* Otherwise, while HB 2817 is a step in the right direction, I fear it won’t be a big enough step to truly allow freedom of competition among carriers, and more freedom of choice for consumers.

You have the opportunity here to both help entrepreneurs create jobs, and to offer more options to consumers. I hope you take it.

Thank you, and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

* Section (3) on page 5 of HB 2817 A-Engrossed.

Click HERE to listen to the Hearing audio.

HB 2718 hearing begins at 38:56.
“Illegal” mover Adam Sweet’s testimony begins at 51:00.
Steve Buckstein’s testimony begins at 58:45.

You must have RealPlayer to play the audio. Click HERE to download RealPlayer.

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