WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS13) – Senator Kamala Harris has teamed up with Senator Elizabeth Warren to introduce legislation intended to fight price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill is the Senate companion to the Price Gouging Prevention Act, which prohibits price gouging of consumer goods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies, Sen. Harris’ office said in a statement.
Although several retailers have taken steps to preserve access to products that have been in high demand during the pandemic, there have been numerous reports of merchants taking advantage of the crisis by charging customers outrageous prices for what are usually affordable household staples.
“No one should exploit people who are suffering,” said Senator Harris. “Price gouging on household necessities is shameful and adds unnecessary stress for families that are just trying to get by. During my time as Attorney General, I fought price gouging during wildfires, and I’m proud today to help introduce the Senate version of a bill to make it illegal nationwide.”
The Price Gouging Prevention Act would prohibit such practices during the current public health emergency-as well as future national emergencies-by directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce a ban on any excessive or opportunistic price increases.
The legislation says that any price increase above 10% will be presumed to be price gouging. It also gives the FTC the authority to enforce the ban and gives states flexibility to enforce federal law and enact their own laws to crack down on price gouging.