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01/23/2022 07:38 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=34655
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 11, 2021 01:45 PM
From: Senator Judy Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Price Gouging Act Revisions
 
I plan to introduce legislation amending Act 133 of 2006, better known as the Price Gouging Act. This legislation was introduced last session as Senate Bill 139.
 
Act 133 prohibits sellers from charging “unconscionably excessive” prices for all consumer goods and services when the governor declares a state of disaster emergency. This prohibition is effective for the duration of the declaration (initially 90 days, but renewable) plus an additional 30 days after termination. This is a disproportionately long period compared to other state laws and has resulted in situations where pricing restrictions from a disaster declaration for a March snowstorm remained in place 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. 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 three years and remain so indefinitely. This situation brings into sharp focus the need to amend the law so that the act’s 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 limit 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, which is vital for small businesses; and
     
  • 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 Petroleum Institute PA
National Federation of Independent Business
Pennsylvania Builders Association
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association
Pennsylvania Petroleum Association
Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association
Pennsylvania Retailers Association
 



Introduced as SB498