The Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee has filed suit against a new law that state legislators passed earlier this year that forces online auctioneers to get a state license.
This, according to a press release Beacon officials released Thursday.
The same press release said the state exempts big online auction sites, including Ebay.
Beacon is a free-market think tank.
“This law is not just unfair but is also unconstitutional, as it clearly violates the First Amendment,” Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham said in the release.
“Beacon is suing the Tennessee Auctioneer Commission before the law takes effect on July 1.”
In an emailed statement to The Star, Beacon Vice President of Legal Affairs Braden Boucek (pictured above) said the law is “a step in the wrong direction.”
“Tennessee is a state that values freedom and equal opportunity. A barrier to work is out of step with what Tennesseans value, no matter how ‘in step’ it might be for auctioneers who want to try and debilitate the upstart,” Boucek said.
“As a state, we need to be committed to giving people access to good paying jobs, especially in rural counties.”
As The Star reported in April, online auctioneers will suffer, as will Tennessee’s economy, if state officials require them to get a license, Beacon officials said at the time.
Boucek said the clear majority of complaints about online auctioneering came from business competitors who don’t like having to compete with a new business model.
This, Boucek went on to say, artificially inflates prices of goods, all of which are passed on to the consumer.
Boucek linked to an Institute of Justice study that examined state and national estimates of the economic costs of occupational licensing.
The Institute for Justice is a Virginia-based and libertarian law firm that pursues civil liberties and other public interest cases, according to its website.
According to the study, more than 21 percent of Tennessee’s workforce is licensed.
“It costs us 46,068 jobs. We lose $173 million in economic value lost, $4.5 billion in misallocated resources,” Boucek said in April.
“We could also see nearly a 16 percent increase in economic returns over what licensees would make if not for licensing.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photos “Braden Boucek” and “Online Shopping” by Beacon Center of Tennessee.