If the state drafts new antitrust legislation to address an evolving energy market, it should avoid preempting desirable market behavior while providing means to punish bad actors, according to several witnesses at an August 23 informational hearing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Committee chair Senator Joe Dunn (D-Garden Grove) explored the new potential for utility mergers along with one of his pet peeves—alleged market manipulation by energy companies. The repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act in the new federal energy bill removed law limiting utility mergers. The energy bill put some authority over such mergers in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. With that change, Dunn asked participants to explore the role of the state and the Attorney General's Office in premerger activity. "With the gaming of our California market, we've absolutely seen that cartel conduct is alive and well, and that antitrust is critical" to our functioning, said Thomas Papageorge, Los Angeles deputy district attorney. "Most are honest and vigorous competitors, but competition is costly and burdensome," and some companies bend or break the rules. Papageorge suggested the state "recalibrate" its antitrust laws because the business has changed globally. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, noted that federal law supplements, not supplants, state interests. "It never hurts to look at all these laws to see how they're working," he added. This is the first step "in a long, sophisticated, complex journey, to see if the legislators can identify some consensus improvement to California antitrust law," Dunn said.