by Sam Hieb
News & Observer reports on Sen. Thom Tillis’ price gouging bill, which would punish people and businesses who engage in price gouging during the coronavirus crisis:
Under Tillis’ legislation, when the president declares a national state of emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be able to create a list of items needed for the crisis.
People or businesses who are charging prices that “grossly exceed” the average price for the item in the previous month or the price being charged by others in the area could be prosecuted.
The Federal Trade Commission and U.S. attorney general would be responsible for enforcing the measures, with special attention to those charging the most.
Tills’ legislation — the End Price-Gouging During Emergencies Act — would allow those federal agencies to prioritize prosecution for price gouging during a time of emergency.
It would allow states to refer cases to the federal government. Offenders could face big fines, as much as 10 times the amount gained by the violation up to $100 million.
The N&O adds that Tillis’ bill is not in the current coronavirus spending package. However, Congress is expected to take up more coronavirus legislation in the next few weeks.