Price-gouging bill headed to Kentucky governor

| 4/16/2004

The Kentucky Senate approved a consumer protection bill that would prohibit prices for basic needs such as food, fuel and housing from being raised more than 10 percent during a state of emergency or national threat. It now heads to Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

The bill, which previously passed the House, is intended to protect consumers from excessively inflated prices, known as “price gouging,” when the U.S. threat level is at its highest point – “severe” – or when a state or federal emergency has been declared, Louisville’s WHAS TV reported. Similar laws are in place in 25 states.

Under the bill, violators would face fines of up to $5,000 for a first offense. The fine could be as much as $10,000 for subsequent violations. The legislation would, however, allow prices for these goods, or services such as repair work, to be increased by slightly more than the 10 percent limit if necessary to cover additional supplier, labor or material costs.

Rep. Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, the bill’s sponsor, said consumers now have no protection in the law from price gouging during difficult times.

HB471 “will protect Kentucky families from those unscrupulous people who would try to take advantage of them in times of emergency,” Thompson said. “It puts in place something that’s missing today, and that is a system whereby families have some recourse.”