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Bipartisan resolution would study California’s antitrust laws 

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo)

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo).

Resolution asks the California Law Revision Commission to study the 114-year-old Cartwright Act

–Last week, Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) announced that they have introduced a bipartisan resolution asking the California Law Revision Commission to study the 114-year-old Cartwright Act, California’s primary antitrust statute, and provide input as to whether the law should be updated to conform with the federal Sherman Act and better reflect modern digital markets.

The Cartwright Act, passed by the Legislature and signed into law in 1907, prohibits companies from colluding to restrain trade or fix prices. However, unlike the federal Sherman Act, it neither addresses monopolization or attempted monopolization, nor mergers.

“The Cartwright Act was written a half century before the idea of computer networks even existed, and cannot possibly be expected to give government the tools it needs to ensure a fair and competitive modern marketplace,” said Cunningham. “California’s antitrust statutes are ripe for modernization, and the nonpartisan California Law Revision Commission is the best body to advise the legislature on how to best do that.”

Specifically, ACR 95 asks the Law Revision Commission: whether the law needs to be revised to outlaw monopolies by single companies; whether the law needs to be revised to take into account digital monopolies that do not necessarily raise prices on consumers; and whether the law needs to be revised to ensure that mergers and acquisitions do not result in less free market competition.

“The accumulation of power among California’s tech giants is snowballing, and 20th Century antitrust laws are ill-equipped to take on these monopolies,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to do all we can to allow small businesses to compete, and make sure that such a great deal of power doesn’t fall into so few hands. As our country’s largest economy and hub of innovation, it’s critical that California join Congress and other state governments in their efforts to revamp antitrust laws.”

The California Law Revision Commission, established in 1953, is an independent body created to assist the Legislature and Governor by examining California law and recommending needed reforms.

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