Imagine that you are a successful small-business entrepreneur.
And then imagine that the government was forcing you to spend $30,000 to build something utterly useless just to prove that you were serious about your business. Sound crazy? That is essentially what is happening to Minnesota funeral-home entrepreneurs:
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Verlin Stoll is a classic American entrepreneur. Although he’s only 27 years old, Verlin opened his first business, Crescent Tide funeral home, in St. Paul last April. He prides himself on being “a different kind of funeral and cremation service” by providing high-quality funeral goods at a lower cost than his competitors.
With basic services at merely $250, Verlin saves his customers serious money. The bigger funeral homes on average charge ten times as much. Indeed, Crescent Tide is one of the only businesses in the area that benefits low-income families who cannot afford the high prices of the big funeral-home companies.
Predictably, Verlin’s business model is a success. And he wants to expand on that success by hiring new employees and building another business so even more Minnesotans can benefit from his services. Unfortunately, there’s an obstacle standing in his way:
Minnesota refuses to let Verlin build a second funeral home unless he first builds a $30,000 embalming room. He doesn’t have to actually use the room, it just has to be there. As Institute for Justice economic liberty expert Katelynn McBride explains:
Minnesota’s law is irrational. Embalming is never required just because someone passes away and the state does not require funeral homes to do their own embalming. In fact, it is perfectly legal to outsource embalming to a third-party embalmer. Minnesota’s largest funeral chain has 17 locations with 17 embalming rooms, but actually uses only one of those rooms.
Why is Minnesota forcing Verlin to waste $30,000 on a useless room as a condition of expanding his thriving business?
The answer is clear: Established industry insiders benefit from a law that drives up expenses for low-cost competitors.
Thankfully, Verlin is fighting back. On January 19 he teamed up with the Institute for Justice and filed suit challenging the regulation in state court. And when Verlin wins, he will not only vindicate his constitutional right to earn an honest living, he will help protect entrepreneurs all across Minnesota from pointless laws and needless bureaucracy.
For the past 20 years, the Institute for Justice has been suing the government–and winning. IJ enters state and federal courtrooms across the country to defend private property rights, economic liberty, free speech and school choice.
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