Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2003-03-28 House Journal

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2003-03-28                     House Journal                      Page 0675
HB 225                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 225 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to certain civil actions brought by the attorney                              
     general under monopoly and restraint of trade statutes; relating to                            
     the award of damages in actions brought under those statutes; and                              
     providing for an effective date."                                                              

2003-03-28                     House Journal                      Page 0676
was read the first time and referred to the House Special Committee on                              
Economic Development, International Trade, & Tourism and the                                        
Judiciary Committee.                                                                                
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Law                                                                     
The Governor's transmittal letter dated March 26, 2003, follows:                                    
"Dear Speaker Kott:                                                                                 
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am                          
transmitting a bill relating to legal action brought by the attorney                                
general on behalf of direct and indirect purchasers under the statutes                              
on monopolies and restraint of trade (antitrust statutes).                                          
This bill updates the Alaska antitrust statutes consistent with recent                              
United States Supreme Court precedent to provide a statutory basis for                              
the attorney general to bring a parens patrie action on behalf of state                             
businesses, residents, and governmental entities as indirect purchasers                             
for violations of our antitrust statutes and to recover damages.  In                                
contrast to other states, under current Alaska antitrust statutes, indirect                         
purchasers are without any remedy for antitrust injuries.  Indirect                                 
purchasers are usually consumers, governmental entities, and small                                  
businesses in the wholesale and retail distribution chain of goods and                              
services.  Alaska antitrust statutes currently allow a cause of action                              
only for purchasers who buy directly from the person or manufacturer                                
that violated the antitrust statutes.  By allowing only the attorney                                
general a cause of action on behalf of both direct and indirect                                     
purchasers, Alaska consumers, businesses, and governmental entities                                 
will have a remedy for redress of antitrust violations without clogging                             
the courts with multiple lawsuits individually brought by those                                     
Parens patrie actions typically involve civil actions on behalf of                                  
numerous persons and sometimes on behalf of numerous                                                
governmental entities.  Accordingly, the bill provides for proof of                                 
antitrust damages by way of statistical methods consistent with federal                             

2003-03-28                     House Journal                      Page 0677
The bill also removes the current requirement in the antitrust statutes                             
that any antitrust plaintiff must prove willful conduct before a court                              
may award treble damages.  Under federal law, a plaintiff does not                                  
have to prove willful conduct to receive treble damages.  The current                               
law has the effect of chilling plaintiffs from bringing antitrust cases in                          
Alaska courts, in favor of resolving issues important to Alaska                                     
businesses and consumers in the federal courts.                                                     
I urge your support of this important legislation.                                                  
                                Frank H. Murkowski