March 25, 2020

Hirono, Klobuchar, Blumenthal, Cortez Masto Introduce Bill To Stop Price Gouging During Catastrophes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced the Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act, a bill that would prevent price gouging on essential services or goods during catastrophes. The bill would prohibit the sale of goods or services at overly inflated prices before or during a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency, and allow the Federal Trade Commission to take legal action against sellers that try to take advantage of consumers during such crises.

“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,” Senator Hirono said.

The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would:

·       Restrict selling or listing for purchase vital goods or services at excessive prices during, or in anticipation of, a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency.

·       Encompass goods and services that can assist, protect, or sustain the health, safety, or welfare of the public from the potential harms caused by a natural disaster, pandemic, or the circumstances giving rise to a state of emergency.

·       Allow for potential civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation.

·       Not interfere with current or future state laws on price gouging.

Senator Hirono has called for a more robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She joined Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to introduce legislation to require President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to obtain additional medical supplies, demanded the Administration stop sabotaging health care during the pandemic, announced disaster assistance for Hawaii small businesses and introduced legislation to ease the economic disruption on small businesses, and secured a Tax Day extension for businesses and taxpayers.