Act of Oct. 31, 2006, P.L. 1210, No. 133             Cl. 12
                                  AN ACT

     Prohibiting price gouging; and imposing penalties.

        The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     hereby enacts as follows:

     Section 1.  Short title.
        This act shall be known and may be cited as the Price Gouging
     Section 2.  Purpose.
        The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
            (1)  In an economic market there are periods of
        disruption of the market which cause an uneven flow of supply
        of consumer goods. During these periods, consumer demand
        outweighs supply, sometimes heavily.
            (2)  These periods of disruption result from many
        factors, including extreme weather conditions, depletion of
        stockpiles, labor strikes, civil disorder, natural or manmade
        emergencies or disasters and military action.
            (3)  During these periods, parties involved in the sale
        and resale of consumer goods and services sometimes take
        unfair advantage of consumers in this Commonwealth by
        charging unconscionably excessive prices, or price gouging.
            (4)  To prevent this, the General Assembly should
        prohibit price gouging and impose penalties on violators.
     Section 3.  Definitions.
        The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
     have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
     context clearly indicates otherwise:
        "Chain of distribution."  All parties involved in the sale
     and resale of consumer goods and services, including any
     manufacturer, supplier, wholesaler, distributor or retail
        "Consumer goods or services."  Those items used, bought or
     rendered primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
        "Replacement cost."  The term includes:
            (1)  acquisition costs;
            (2)  costs that are a result of a contract where consumer
        goods or services are priced on a formula that references
        published market prices;
            (3)  the actual cost of replacing goods or services being
        sold; or
            (4)  the reasonably contemplated cost of replacing goods
        or services being sold based on information available at the
        time of the increase in price.
        "Unconscionably excessive."  A price is unconscionably
     excessive when the amount charged represents a gross disparity
     between the price of the consumer goods or services and the
     price at which the consumer goods or services were sold or
     offered for sale within the chain of distribution in the usual
     course of business seven days immediately prior to the state of
     disaster emergency.
     Section 4.  Price gouging prohibited.
        (a)  Prohibition.--During and within 30 days of the
     termination of a state of disaster emergency declared by the
     Governor pursuant to the provisions of 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301(c)
     (relating to general authority of Governor), it shall be a
     violation of this act for any party within the chain of
     distribution of consumer goods or services or both to sell or
     offer to sell the goods or services within the geographic region
     that is the subject of the declared emergency for an amount
     which represents an unconscionably excessive price.
        (b)  Evidence of unconscionably excessive price.--It is prima
     facie evidence that a price is unconscionably excessive if,
     during and within 30 days of the termination of a state of
     disaster emergency, parties within the chain of distribution
     charge a price that exceeds an amount equal to or in excess of
     20% of the average price at which the same or similar consumer
     goods or services were obtainable in the affected area during
     the last seven days immediately prior to the declared state of
        (c)  Nonapplicability.--
            (1)  The provisions of this section shall not apply if
        the increase in price is due to a disparity that is
        substantially attributable to additional costs that arose
        within the chain of distribution in connection with the sale
        of consumer goods or services, including replacement costs,
        credit card costs, taxes and transportation costs.
            (2)  The provisions of this act shall not apply to the
        sale of goods or services sold by a person pursuant to a
        tariff or rate approved by a Federal or Commonwealth agency
        with power and authority over sales of such goods or
        (d)  Price reduction.--A person selling consumer goods or
     services who receives any price reduction, after an increase in
     his cost which is substantially attributable to costs that arose
     within the chain of distribution as set forth in subsection (c),
     may rebut an allegation of selling at an unconscionably
     excessive price if he reduces the price by a like amount within
     a reasonable period, not to exceed seven days, of acquiring the
     consumer good or service at such reduced price.
        (e)  Notification.--A trade association, corporation,
     partnership, person or other entity may register an agent for
     the purpose of being notified when the Governor declares and
     ceases a state of emergency. The Governor or his designee is
     responsible for notifying the registered agents upon the
     declaration and cessation of the state of emergency. Lack of
     notification or the failure to receive notification of the
     declaration and cessation of an emergency shall not be a defense
     with respect to any violation of this act.
     Section 5.  Investigation.
        (a)  Authority.--The Bureau of Consumer Protection in the
     Office of Attorney General shall investigate any complaints
     received concerning violations of this act. If, after
     investigating any complaint, the Attorney General finds that
     there has been a violation of this act, the Attorney General may
     bring an action to impose a civil penalty up to $10,000 for each
     violation and to seek other relief, including injunctive relief,
     restitution and costs under the act of December 17, 1968
     (P.L.1224, No.387), known as the Unfair Trade Practices and
     Consumer Protection Law.
        (b)  Procedure.--Prior to the initiation of a civil action,
     the Attorney General is authorized to require the attendance and
     testimony of witnesses and the production of documents. For this
     purpose the Attorney General may issue subpoenas, examine
     witnesses and receive evidence. If a person objects to or
     otherwise fails to comply with a subpoena or request for
     testimony, the Attorney General may file in Commonwealth Court
     or any court of record of this Commonwealth an action to enforce
     the subpoenas or request. Notice of hearing of the action and a
     copy of all pleadings shall be served upon the person who may
     appear in opposition.
        (c)  Confidentiality.--Any testimony taken or material
     produced shall be kept confidential by the Attorney General
     except to the extent that such information may be used in a
     judicial proceeding or the disclosure is authorized by the court
     for good cause shown or confidentiality is waived by the person
     being investigated and by the person who has testified, answered
     interrogatories or produced materials.
     Section 6.  Effective date.
        This act shall take effect in 60 days.