Nambé, N.M. – U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce and Judiciary Committees to introduce legislation to protect families from price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Price Gouging Prevention Act would prohibit the sale of consumer goods and services at unconscionably excessive rates during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“It’s reprehensible that companies would look to profit off the uncertainty and fear caused by this pandemic. Families’ budgets are already stretched too thin, and gouging consumers during a health crisis will lead to children and seniors going hungry and families’ health put at risk,” said Luján. “I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation to protect New Mexicans when they purchase groceries, medications, and other necessities.”
The legislation was authored by House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The bill uses the following criteria to determine if price gouging has occurred:
- Whether the price grossly exceeds the average price that the same good or service was sold for the 90-days before January 31, 2020, or during the same 90-day period of the previous year;
- Whether the price grossly exceeds the average price of the same good or service sold by other similarly situated sellers during the same period; and
- Whether the price reasonably reflects additional costs to the seller or the profitability of forgone sales.
This act would apply to—but is not limited to—food, water, personal protective equipment, respirators, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, health care services, delivery services, or cleaning services.
The bill text is available HERE.