Arkansas Taxicab Owner Beats City Hall in Anti-Monopoly Case

Published January 17, 2017

A Pulaski County, Arkansas judge ruled in favor of a small business owner in December 2016, finding lawmakers in Little Rock violated the state’s constitution by restricting the number of taxicab companies allowed to operate in the city.

Circuit Court Judge David Laser overturned Little Rock’s regulations limiting the number of taxicab permits available for businesses, allowing Ken Leininger, owner of Ken’s Cabs, to apply for permission to operate in the city.

The ordinance Leininger challenged allowed only 125 taxicab drivers to work in Little Rock, a city of approximately 193,500 people.

According to local media reports, government lawyers are planning to demand the case be reheard by another Pulaski County Circuit Court judge. If that request is denied, the lawyers plan to appeal the case to the state’s Court of Appeals.

‘Thank God for the Constitution’

Dan Greenberg, president of the Advance Arkansas Initiative, says the state’s constitution prohibits governments from using regulations to pick winners and losers.

“Thank God for the constitution, which is a thought that comes to mind often for me,” Greenburg said. “The Arkansas Constitution says that monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state and ought not to be allowed.”

Fighting to Keep Power

Greenburg says city lawmakers want to try to keep their power over the city’s consumers, instead of allowing people to decide for themselves what’s best.

“The city wants to roll the dice again,” Greenburg said. “Their posture is that city governments need to have these fairly expansive powers to create monopolies as a matter of principle. There’s a reason we have this anti-monopoly language in the constitution. It’s almost as if these people who wrote the Arkansas Constitution 150 years ago were sometimes a little smarter than the rest of us.”

Win for Consumers

Greg Kaza, executive director of the Arkansas Policy Foundation, says Leininger’s court victory is a win for consumers.

“The decision is a victory for consumer sovereignty and the American entrepreneurial spirit,” Kaza said. “The taxicab episode illustrates that Little Rock has too many rules and regulations that prevent individuals from earning an honest living. The system makes it hard here to earn a living, and as a Little Rock resident, it’s good news to hear that the consumers will have one more choice in that market.”