MJI Warns Tupelo of Litigation if Food Truck Regulations Pass
Food truck regulations like the ones Tupelo has proposed have been challenged and rescinded around the country
(JACKSON) – Yesterday the Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) sent letters to Tupelo city leaders warning that, if Tupelo passes the regulations on food trucks it is currently discussing, Tupelo could be sued.
“The very regulation Tupelo is discussing—a regulation about how close a food truck should be to a restaurant—was found to be unenforceable just this past December in Baltimore. Food truck regulations around the country have been challenged over and over in court, from Louisville, to San Antonio, to Chicago, and many places in between. Cities ultimately realize that these kinds of cases are very hard to defend,” said Shadrack White, Director of the MJI.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported earlier this week that Tupelo’s city council was considering regulating food trucks in the city, particularly as it relates to their distance from existing brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“Regulations about how far a food truck can be from a restaurant have nothing to do with consumer safety. Regulating that distance does nothing to protect the public. It’s simply an attempt to protect existing businesses from newer businesses. It’s not the government’s job to protect a business from competition,” said White.
In the Daily Journal’s article, Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings was reported to say, “I just want to make sure the established businesses are protected.”
White added, “Tupelo should not have these kinds of arbitrary regulations that take away a person’s right to earn a living. It is unfair to favor some businesses over others. Food trucks pay taxes and employ people, too. I don’t care what party you belong to, government favoritism for politically connected businesses is wrong.”
White also pointed out that Tupelo could do damage to its long-term prospects for success by overregulating its economy. “Take a look at any number of dynamic cities. There’s a booming food truck market. They attract tourists, diversify the economy, and make places more interesting. Tupelo can have a bright future ahead of it. The city should not stunt its growth with regulations that unfairly favor some businesses over others.”