PRINTER'S NO. 115
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
139
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY J. WARD, SCARNATI, LANGERHOLC, SCAVELLO, BROWNE,
PHILLIPS-HILL, FOLMER, BARTOLOTTA, WHITE, MARTIN, ARGALL,
K. WARD, STEFANO, MENSCH, YAW, KILLION, LAUGHLIN, HUTCHINSON,
VOGEL, BROOKS, REGAN AND BLAKE, JANUARY 31, 2019
REFERRED TO VETERANS AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS,
JANUARY 31, 2019
AN ACT
Amending the act of October 31, 2006 (P.L.1210, No.133),
entitled "An act prohibiting price gouging; and imposing
penalties," further providing for definitions, for price
gouging prohibited and for investigation.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The definition of "unconscionably excessive" in
section 3 of the act of October 31, 2006 (P.L.1210, No.133),
known as the Price Gouging Act, is amended and the section is
amended by adding a definition to read:
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:
* * *
"Cost." Any cost directly or indirectly related to the sale
of a consumer good or service or the operation of a seller's
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business. The term includes replacement costs, credit card
costs, taxes and transportation costs .
* * *
["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 2. Sections 4(a), (b), (c), (d) and 5(a) of the act
are amended to read:
Section 4. Price gouging prohibited.
(a) Prohibition.--[During and within 30 days of the
termination] On the declaration of a state of disaster emergency
[declared] by the Governor pursuant to the provisions of 35
Pa.C.S. ยง 7301(c) (relating to general authority of Governor),
the Governor may, by expressly stating in a declaration of a
state of disaster emergency that the provisions of this act are
applicable , impose a price restriction under this section on the
sale of consumer goods or services necessary for use or
consumption in the affected geographic area as a direct result
of the state of disaster emergency for a period of 15 days. The
price restriction may be renewed for up to three additional 15-
day periods as may be necessary. During the period the price
restriction is in effect, 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 affected goods
or services within the geographic region that is the subject of
the declared emergency for an amount which represents an
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unconscionably excessive price.
(b) [Evidence of unconscionably] 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 emergency.] Whether a price is an
unconscionably excessive price is a question of law. The court
shall consider all relevant factors, including whether there is
a gross disparity between the seller's price immediately before
the price restriction under subsection (a) was imposed and the
seller's price following the declaration of a state of disaster
emergency and whether the seller's price substantially exceeds
those prevailing on the date and in the locality in question . A
price is not an unconscionably excessive price if the price:
(1) is 10% or less above the seller's price immediately
before the price restriction under subsection (a) was
imposed;
(2) is 10% or less above the sum of the seller's cost
and normal markup for the good or service;
(3) is consistent with price fluctuations in applicable
commodity, regional, national or international markets or
with seasonal price fluctuations; or
(4) is a contract price, or the result of a price
formula, established before the price restriction under
subsection (a) was imposed.
(c) Nonapplicability.--
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[(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
services.
(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.
* * *
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
willful violation, with an aggregate total that may not exceed
$25,000 for a 24-hour period against a seller, and to seek other
relief, including injunctive relief, restitution and costs under
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the act of December 17, 1968 (P.L.1224, No.387), known as the
Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The civil
penalty provided for under this subsection shall be the sole
penalty for conduct in violation of this act. Nothing in this
subsection shall be construed to create or imply a private cause
of action for a violation of this act.
* * *
Section 3. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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