The Louisiana Senate has unanimously approved a bill that is
intended to protect consumers from being gouged at the fuel pump. It now heads
to the House for further consideration.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports nearly
30 states have some type of price gouging ban with many others pursuing their
own rules. The laws in many of those states are triggered by emergency
Louisiana currently imposes civil fines on merchants who
overcharge for goods and services, including fuel, during or in the wake of a
Sponsored by Sen. Francis Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, the bill
would criminalize price gouging and make it punishable by up to two years in
jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine.
Merchants would be permitted to increase prices if the mark
up is consistent with similar goods and services outside the state. They would
also be allowed to cover the cost of getting items in preparation for or after
Merchants would not be able to charge a price that “grossly
exceeds the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods and services” during
or before the disaster.
The rule would take effect during an emergency declared by
the governor or a local official. It also would take effect when a named
tropical storm or hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico.
The bill – SB502 – is in the House Criminal Justice