April 08, 2022

Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Price Gouging During Crises

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) joined Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in reintroducing legislation to prohibit the selling of essential goods and services at exorbitant prices during or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency. Currently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal agencies have limited legal authority to prevent price gouging. The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would give the FTC more tools to go after excessive and unjustified price increases in the sale of certain products and services when an emergency or disaster occurs.

“Over the past two years, corporate executives have exploited the COVID crisis to drive up prices and line their own pockets,” Hirono said. “It is unacceptable for companies to increase their profit margins at the expense of the American people by inflating prices for essentials like insulin and gasoline. The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act will strengthen the FTC’s ability to combat this kind of price gouging and protect American consumers.”

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;
  • 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; and
  • Not preempt state price gouging laws. 

The full text of the Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act can be found here.

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