A Pennsylvania state senator is backing legislation supported by PFMA that would update the state's Price Gouging Act to address price controls in a state of emergency, benefiting both businesses and consumers.
The measure, Senate Bill 139, is sponsored by state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair. Sen. Ward is leading the charge after a similar measure sponsored by state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin, was overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly in 2018, but vetoed at the end of session by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Sen. Alloway announced his retirement, effective Feb. 28.
In all, the measure would:
Require the Governor to specifically activate pricing restrictions when declaring an emergency so they apply only when needed. Other states have similar best practices.
Limit the duration of pricing restrictions to 15 days (with extensions up to 60 days), and limits their scope to those goods and services necessary for use or consumption.
Provide guidance as to what prices would not violate the law -- with safe harbors for prices that are 10% or less above specified benchmarks or consistent with external market prices.
Simplify the compliance process (important for small businesses).
Make the penalty provision work more fairly and centralize enforcement in the Commonwealth (within the Attorney General’s Office).
The legislation is supported by many statewide business organizations, including American Car Rental Association, Associated Petroleum Industries of PA, National Federation of Independent Business, Pennsylvania Builders Association, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Pennsylvania Retailers Association