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Prepared Statement of the Federal Trade Commission: "License To Compete: Occupational Licensing and the State Action Doctrine," Before the Subcommittee On Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, US Senate
FTC Chairwoman Ramirez Testifies Before House Judiciary Subcommittee On Antitrust Enforcement and Priorities to Promote Competition and Protect Consumers
Prepared Statement of the Federal Trade Commission On “Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws”
FTC Chairwoman Ramirez Testifies Before House Judiciary Subcommittee on Agency’s Enforcement of U.S. Antitrust Laws to Promote Competition and Protect Consumers
The FTC issued an administrative complaint on 7/17/2010 alleging that the state dental board in North Carolina is harming competition by blocking non-dentists from providing teeth-whitening services in the state. The FTC charged that the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners impermissibly ordered non-dentists to stop providing teeth-whitening services, which has made it harder to obtain these services and more expensive for North Carolina consumers. According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, teeth-whitening services are much less expensive when performed by non-dentist than when performed by dentists. In an Initial Decision issued July 14, 2011, the ALJ found that non-dentists compete with dentists to provide teeth whitening services in North Carolina and that the Dental Board's concerted action to exclude non-dentist-provided teeth whitening services from the market had a tendency to harm competition. The ALJ further found that the Dental Board's action had no valid pro competitive justification and constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade and an unfair method of competition. On February 8, 2011, the Commission denied the respondent's motion to dismiss, ruling that the Board's actions were not entitled to state action immunity. The Commission ruled that because the Board is controlled by practicing dentists, its condcut must be actively supervised by the state. OnDecember 7, 2011, the Commission issued an Opinion concluding that the Dental Board violated of Section 5 of the FTC Act, and agreed with the ALJ that the Dental Board's conduct "constituted concerte action, . . . had a tendency to harm competition and did in fact harm competition," and had no legitimate pro-competitive justification. The Commission concluded that the Dental Board's conduct could be deemed illegal under the "inherently suspect" mode of analysis because the challenged conduct had a clear tendency to suppress competition and lacked any countervailing procompetitive virtue. On May 3, 2013, the Fourth Circuit denied the Board's petition to review the Commission's decision and on 2/25/15, the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
After an administrative trial, the administrative law judge found that a group of affiliated intrastate movers had engaged in horizontal price-fixing by filing collective rates on behalf of its member motor common carriers for the intrastate transportation of property within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The judge also ruled that the association’s conduct was not protected by the state action doctrine because the State of Kentucky did not supervise the rate-making practices of the group. On July 12, 2004, the Kentucky Household Goods Carriers Association, Inc. filed an appeal of the initial decision with the Commission. On June 22, 2005, the Commission issued a unanimous opinion finding that the Kentucky Household Goods Carriers Association, Inc. engaged in illegal price-fixing by jointly filing tariffs containing collective rates on behalf of its members, and that the state action doctrine does not immunize that activity from antitrust liability. On August 22, 2006, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the opinion of the Commission.
FTC Staff Testimony Before the Antitrust Modernization Commission Concerning the State Action Doctrine
An association of household goods movers agreed to settle FTC charges that it violated the antitrust laws by engaging in the collective filing of tariffs on behalf of its members who compete in the provision of moving services in the state of Alabama. The conduct is not protected by the state action doctrine because it was not actively supervised by the state. Under terms of a final consent order, Alabama Trucking Association, Inc. agreed to stop filing tariffs containing collective intrastate rates and to void collectively filed tariffs currently in effect in Alabama.
In an administrative complaint issued on July 8, 2003, the Commission charged that the association composed of competing household goods movers filed collective rates for intrastate moving services in the state of Mississippi. According to the complaint, these activities were not protected under the state action doctrine because they were not actively supervised by the state. Under terms of a final consent order the Movers Conference agreed to stop filing tariffs containing collective intrastate rates.
A consent order settled charges that the household goods movers association filed collectively established rate tariffs for its members in Minnesota, conduct that was not protected by the state action doctrine because the conduct was not actively supervised by the state. According to the complaint, the MTSA filed collectively set rates on behalf of its 89 members, which had the effect of fixing prices of household goods moves, and restricting price competition to the detriment of consumers.
The Iowa Movers and Warehousemen’s Association agreed to stop certain conduct to settle allegations that it filed collectively established tariffs for intrastate moving rates in Iowa - a practice which did not meet the requirements of the state action doctrine because the conduct was not actively supervised by the state.
The corporation that represents household goods movers in Indiana settled charges that it filed collective intrastate rate tariffs with the State’s Department of Revenue on behalf of its members. According to the complaint issued with the consent order, these collective filings reduced competition for household goods moving services within the state, and the conduct was not protected by the state action doctrine because it was not actively supervised by the state.
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