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503-378-6002 or Michael.C.Kron@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced passage of Oregon's first ever anti-price gouging law. Senate Bill 118 was proposed by the Attorney General to protect consumers from being forced to pay excessively high prices during an emergency, crisis or natural disaster.
"I applaud the Legislature for taking this important step to protect Oregon consumers," stated Myers. "We can now join the majority of other states whose laws prevent businesses from taking advantage of consumers by charging unconscionably high prices for goods and services during times of emergency."
Senate Bill 118 makes it a specific violation of the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act if merchants or wholesalers sell or offer to sell any essential consumer goods or services for an amount that is unconscionably excessive during a declared abnormal disruption of the market.
Under the bill, the Governor is given the authority to declare that the marketplace has been abnormally disrupted. This would likely occur during a natural disaster but can also occur during human-created emergencies. The limitations of the law take effect only upon the Governor's declaration and the declaration cannot last longer than 30 days, unless renewed by the Governor. Gasoline, lodging, food and water are among goods that could be considered "essential," depending on the triggering event.
The bill also accounts for natural fluctuations in the market to accommodate situations in which increased prices in excess of the limitations are attributable to additional costs imposed on businesses due to the event, are otherwise the result of market factors unrelated to the declaration, or are the result of internal increased costs related to the declaration.
Senate Bill 118 passed the House 32-23 today and now awaits the Governor's signature into law, at which point it takes effect.
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