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US: Kansas asks SCOTUS for price-fixing law support

 |  December 3, 2014

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had the support of 21 other states in his request for the US Supreme Court to back Kansas’ state laws against price-fixing, rules that the federal government is challenging, according to reports.

AG Schmidt filed an amicus curiae brief that seeks SCOTUS protection of the Kansas laws that bar retailers from fixing the price of natural gas. Federal officials have challenged the rules on grounds that they are preempted by the federal Natural Gas Act, and that the preemption extends to the retail market when natural gas sales involve federally regulated wholesale prices and a federally regulated seller, say reports.

But Kansas wants to control its own gas price rules. “We’re asking the Supreme Court to reject the federal government’s view that only Washington has the legal power to protect Kansas natural gas purchasers from costly illegal price fixing,” AG Schmidt says. “The federal Natural Gas Act clearly gives states a regulatory role over natural gas and it is transported and distributed within the state. Kansas antitrust laws protect consumers and taxpayers by ensuring a fair, competition retail marketplace for natural gas.”

The dispute stems from lawsuits accusing retailers of illegally fixing gas prices; according to reports, several cases have been consolidated in Nevada. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the plaintiffs – which include Topeka Unified School District and Learjet, based in Kansas – to move forward with their state-law claims. But defendants are asking the Supreme Court to toss the lawsuit on grounds that federal law preempts state law when it comes to gas market price-fixing.

Reports say the case is set for oral argument in the Supreme Court in January.

Full content: Infozine

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