wrapped up its two-year legislative session Jan. 9 without approving
legislation that would toughen penalties for fuel price gouging in the state.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the resulting high costs for
fuel seen at the pump, the Senate Transportation Committee advanced a
legislative package that would fine fuel station operators $1,500 for raising
the price of fuel more than once in a 24-hour period. Repeat offenders would
face a $3,000 fine.
The package called for suspending station operators’ fuel licenses for
up to 30 days for a first offense and possible revocation for subsequent
The legislation, however, never came up for consideration before the
full Senate, killing the bill.
law allows the state to fine gougers $50 to $200 per occurrence. The law also
prohibits the price of fuel from being increased more than once in a 24-hour
A separate fuel-related bill – S2808 – met the same fate. It would have
increased the penalties for stealing fuel.
Anyone found to have stolen fuel would have faced fines and possible
prison time. The most serious offense would have been five years in prison for
the theft of 10,000 gallons or more.
Bills that didn’t pass both chambers when the session ended can be
reintroduced in the new Legislature that started Jan. 10. The fuel theft bill
already has been reintroduced by Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth.
Kyrillos’ bill – S595 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.