A February Supreme Court decision regarding state antitrust laws in North Carolina may have an impact on associations. In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, the Supreme Court found that a regulatory board is exempt from federal antitrust laws regarding “state action” only if the organization is actively supervised by the state. According to a report by Pillsbury, Federal antitrust laws are meant to prohibit anticompetitive restrictions on trade, but there is an exemption for states that act in their sovereign capacity. The Supreme Court found that a state must oversee such a board if a state is to rely on “active market participants” as regulators. This decision is relevant to the association community, as it may impact organizations that are delegated or act pursuant to any governmental authority.
In this case the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners issued cease-and-desist letters to non-dentists who were providing teeth whitening services. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against the Board in 2010 alleging anticompetitive conduct and unfair competition. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit sided with the FTC and found that the Board was not sufficiently overseen by the state to make the actions “state actions.” The Supreme Court also found that the Board was not supervised by the state.
ASAE has worked with a variety of business coalitions over the past year to encourage revisions to the District of Columbia’s proposed paid- leave legislation. ASAE also testified twice before the DC Council on the District’s plan to establish a paid family and medical leave benefit for private-sector employees in the city.
The DC Council broke for a two-month recess July 12 without action on a proposed paid-leave law, though the proposal could come up again this fall. DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told reporters in July that the council only recently received estimates for how many weeks off the city might be able to provide for eligible District workers. Chairman Mendelson declined to make the new cost analysis public at that stage, saying only that the council would continue working on the proposal when it returns from recess in September.
The most recent version of the proposed Universal Paid Leave Act would allow DC employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year for a qualifying event. The program’s cost—still unknown—would be paid for by a 1 percent tax on DC employers. DC’s own chief financial officer, Jeffrey Dewitt, has warned the council that the expected cost of the benefit would likely exceed anticipated revenue from the employer tax. ASAE is watching any developments on this issue closely.