Missouri bill would put in place price gouging protections

| 1/14/2008

A Missouri state lawmaker renewed his effort to help protect consumers in the state from being gouged at the fuel pump.

For the second straight year, Rep. Mark Bruns, R-Jefferson City, offered legislation intended to prevent price gouging in the state during state or federal emergencies. The protections would apply to necessities, including food, fuel, water and transportation.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports nearly 30 states have some type of price gouging ban with others pursuing their own rules. The laws in many of those states are triggered by emergency declarations.

In 2007, Bruns’ effort to put in place protections against price gouging failed to advance from committee. Hopeful that this year would be different, he again introduced a bill that would prohibit sellers from increasing prices more than 10 percent above their costs immediately before emergency declarations.

Offenders would be liable for three times the amount “unfairly received for each transaction.”

The bill – HB1496 – is awaiting assignment to committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri in 2008, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor