Senate-passed antitrust reform expected to die in Assembly

Both houses of the state government disagree on revising the state’s antitrust laws as they prepare to leave Albany.

Senators on Wednesday passed Deputy Senate Leader Mike Gianaris’ 21st Century Antitrust Act in a split 36-25 vote. The proposed law would criminalize business practices that create a monopoly in a New York labor market and would make it illegal for business owners to abuse market dominance.

The measure also orders the attorney general’s office to set an “abuse of dominance” standard for law enforcement, and authorizes the state to take class action lawsuits against large commercial companies seeking an industry. dominate and undermine competition.

But the measure lacks sufficient support in the Assembly to make it onto the governor’s desk.

“There needs to be more work on the Assembly side this year to make it happen,” said MP Harvey Epstein, a Manhattan Democrat who co-sponsored the move in the lower house. “It’s a shame. It’s an important piece of legislation. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t have the support it needs to cross the finish line in this session.”

Assembly sponsor Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat from the Bronx, could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts on Wednesday.

The Attorney General will provide guidelines and regulations on how to interpret the specifics of the state market, and specify conditions that indicate industrial abuse of dominance. The legislator will oversee the rules.

The bill does not change the way courts define the scope or size of a market.

Epstein said the majority of his colleagues have shown “real support” for reforming the state’s antitrust laws, but remain skeptical of potential consequences.

“There are general concerns about the bill and potential federal issues,” Epstein said. †[They] you just need to understand the bill and be comfortable with it.”

Gianaris on Wednesday defended his antitrust overhaul against Senator George Borrello, a Republican from Sunset Bay.

Borrello expressed concern about the possibility for companies to file class action lawsuits for squeezing competition, which could harm small and medium-sized businesses. His own company was the target of a frivolous class action lawsuit, he said.

Gianaris replied that protecting small and medium-sized businesses from commercial players who unilaterally manipulate the market is the point of reforming the state’s antitrust laws. The state’s antitrust law, known as the Donnelly Act, was enacted in 1899 before the federal antitrust Sherman Act.

“We are changing the standard because it needs to be changed,” said Gianaris. “…The big tech companies are completely suffocating the small and medium players to the point where they can’t operate and they can’t succeed.

“What’s in it to protect small and medium businesses? The whole bill.”

Epstein cited the ongoing national baby food shortage as a prime example of why tougher antitrust laws are needed in the state and in the U.S. Four manufacturers control 90% of the U.S. baby food market, meaning

“If one company controls 46% of all baby food in the United States and that becomes a crisis in our country, don’t tell me the antitrust laws are meaningless,” he said. “We need to strengthen our antitrust laws, at least in New York.”

Lawmakers are expected to pass legislative packages to strengthen state gun regulations and access to abortion in New York in the wake of recent national talks. Lawmakers have a full plate for the last three scheduled days of the year’s legislative session, and are eager to get out of Albany as they juggle campaigns for two state primaries in newly elected constituencies.

Senators on Wednesday passed the antitrust measure and two other bills to improve transparency in the online marketplace and increase fines for disruption-related fraud. The three bills were part of a Senate legislative package aimed at inflation, pushing up prices and improving market competition.

“New York has always prided itself on a robust economy where everyone can participate and thrive,” Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​said Wednesday. spoil our free market. This legislation tackles new barriers in the digital age, tightening the necessary penalties and fine-tuning our legal liability measures so that no harm goes unpunished. With this package, we can protect the interests of New York consumers and better maintain the integrity of our market.”

Gianaris joined the Senate Consumer Protection Committee and held the first-ever hearing in New York on corporate antitrust policy monopolies in the fall of 2020.

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