State Law Does Not Affect JOA

Article excerpt

STATE GOVERNMENT attempt to force the Hawaii Newspaper Agency's papers to submit annual income tax returns to the attorney general was thwarted by a federal appellate court ruling.

The Newspaper Preservation Act (NPA), which enabled the creation of a joint operating agreement for the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin, pre-empts a state law that also required the newspapers to furnish any "special or supplementary reports" to the state attorney general, the U.S. Ciruit Court of Appeals declared. The reports would have to be handed over within 30 days from Dec. 31.

The NPA statute's plain language leaves nothing for the states to regulate," the court declared.

Hawaii's legislative Act 243, adopted in 1995, makes normally private information about the JOA newspapers a public record.the measure opined that the "justification for the monopoly" granted by the NPA, which was enacted in 1962, "may no longer be true."

The HNA sued Attorney General Margery S. Bronster for relief and was upheld by a U.S. District Court judge, who said Act 243 violated the First Amendment, as well as the Constitution's Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.

In the decision upholding the lower court's opinion, Circuit Judge Arthur Alarcon noted Act 243 requires the attorney general to submit the newspaper's "confidential" information to the U.S. Department of justice, thus allowing business competitors and others to access it.

In response to Bronster's argument that Congress, in passing the NPA, left room for "supplemental regulation" by the states, Alarcon wrote that Congress, to the contrary, intended to pre-empt state regulation of JOAs by shielding them from antitrust laws. …