Florida uses emergency to enact price-gouging law

| 5/11/2006

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated his department’s price-gouging hot line following the recent declaration of a state of emergency by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bush declared the state of emergency on Tuesday, May 9, after outbreaks of wildfires across the state forced the closure of portions of Interstate 95 and threatened many homes and businesses.

The Jacksonville Business Journal reported that the state’s price gouging law takes effect during any declared state of emergency, and the wildfires are no exception.

The law states that it is illegal in Florida to charge exorbitant or excessive prices for essential items – including fuel – during a time of emergency, unless those costs reflect additional costs incurred by the retailer.

The Business Journal reported that the law carries punishments of fines up to $1,000 per violation, or a maximum of up to $25,000 a day.

Complaints in the state can be filed by calling the hotline at (800) 435-7352 or online at www.800helpfla.com.