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Lawsuit: Regulation illegally blocks business serving kids

January 13, 2021 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans woman says in a federal lawsuit that she’s being unconstitutionally denied the right to run a business providing care to special needs children.

The suit was filed Tuesday on behalf of Ursula Newell-Davis, who said she wants to run a business providing “respite” services — giving care and education services to disabled or challenged children whose parents can’t be with them around the clock.

Filed on her behalf by the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy, the lawsuit opposes the state requirement that she prove a need for the service through a “Facility Need Review.”

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The suit says the state requirement is really an unconstitutional way of protecting the interests of existing care providers. The requirement for a Facility Need Review “permits the Department to reject an applicant solely because there are purportedly ‘enough’ businesses already operating,” the suit says. “This is simple, unconstitutional economic protectionism.”

Defendants in the lawsuit are several state health officials. The state has not yet filed its response.