Consumers across the country have reported facing exorbitant prices from some sellers during the coronavirus outbreak
The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would prohibit the sale of essential goods and services at excessive prices during, or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency
WASHINGTON – As consumers across the country continue to report facing excessive prices from some sellers during the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced a bill that would prohibit price gouging. The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act, would prohibit the selling, or offering for sale, essential goods and services at excessive prices during, or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency.
“The coronavirus pandemic has put incredible stress on consumers and we must make sure that they can afford essential goods and services,” Klobuchar said. “The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would help ensure that people are not taken advantage of and that price gouging is prohibited during a state of emergency like now. All consumers should have access to the products and services they need to protect their families at fair, uninflated prices.”
“Too many Americans have already faced exorbitantly-priced essential goods and services because a selfish, bottom-feeding few want to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. This bill puts safeguards in place so that no one has to worry about being able to afford indispensable items at times of natural disasters, pandemics, or a state of emergency – and holds those who try to gouge prices accountable,” Blumenthal said.
“We are in a national emergency, with people’s resources stretched thin. It is simply unacceptable for people and companies to try to profit on the backs of consumers in dire need through sky-high prices on essential goods and services. The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would put an end to this practice now and in the event of future emergencies by ensuring consumers pay fair prices on essentials,” Hirono said.
“At a time of crisis when all Americans must pull together, we can’t let a small number of unscrupulous businesses take advantage of people in need. This bill will ensure that Nevadans can get key goods and services at fair prices during emergencies. I’ll continue working in the Senate to protect consumers and businesses alike during this critical period,” Cortez Masto said.
The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would:
- Prohibit selling, or offering for sale, essential goods and services at an unconscionably excessive price during, or in anticipation of, a natural disaster, pandemic or state of emergency.
- Presume prices are unconscionable if the crisis price exceeds the pre-crisis price by more than 20%, unless the price increase is a product of an increase in the seller’s costs.
- Apply to goods and services that may be used to preserve, protect, or sustain the health, safety or welfare of members of the public from potential harms resulting from a natural disaster, a pandemic or the circumstances giving rise to a state of emergency.
- Provide for potential civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and injunctions.
- Does not preempt state price gouging laws.