|Posted:||December 3, 2018 03:07 PM|
|From:||Senator Richard L. Alloway, II|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Price Gouging Act Amendments|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation amending the Price Gouging Act. This legislation was previously introduced as SB 1172 in 17-18.
Act 133 of 2006 prohibits sellers from charging “unconscionably excessive” prices for all consumer goods and services when a state of disaster emergency is declared by the governor. This prohibition is effective for the duration of the declaration (initially 90 days, but renewable) plus an additional 30 days after termination. This is an excessively long period compared to other state laws and has resulted in situations where pricing restrictions from a disaster declaration for a winter snowstorm remained in place until June or beyond. In fact, emergency declarations issued for winter storms in early March can remain in place and maintain price restrictions through the Fourth of July.
Additionally, on January 10, 2018, Governor Wolf signed a disaster declaration to combat the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic. This was the Commonwealth’s first declaration for a non-natural disaster, but it still triggered the Price Gouging Act, and with its continued renewal, all manufacturers, distributors and retailers statewide on all consumer goods and services have been subject to pricing restrictions for the past year and may remain so indefinitely. This situation brings into sharp focus the need to amend the law so that its restraints on commerce apply only to the extent necessary.
Overall, this legislation would:
*Require the Governor to specifically activate pricing restrictions when declaring an emergency so they apply only when needed. Other states have similar best practices.
*Limit the duration of pricing restrictions to 15 days (with extensions up to 60 days), and limits their scope to those goods and services necessary for use or consumption.
*Provide guidance as to what prices would not violate the law -- with safe harbors for prices that are 10% or less above specified benchmarks or consistent with external market prices.
*Simplify the compliance process (important for small businesses).
*Make the penalty provision work more fairly and centralize enforcement in the Commonwealth (within the Attorney General’s Office).
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation which is supported by the following organizations:
American Car Rental Association
Associated Petroleum Industries of PA
National Federation of Independent Business
Pennsylvania Builders Association
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association
Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association
Pennsylvania Retailers Association
Introduced as SB139