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Enhanced price-gouging legislation headed to House Floor

An anti-price gouging law could get more bite.

HF3526 would modify a law passed last session that prohibits retailers from charging “unconscionably excessive prices” when the governor declares an emergency in the aftermath of a disaster such as a severe weather event.

“We are adding in tree trimming and other services from restoration and mitigation companies to the price-gouging statute,” said Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee).

Tabke, who sponsors the bill, said he is “working to eliminate the folks that have extremely high prices” who take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable.

The House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill, as amended, on a voice vote Wednesday and sent it to the House Floor.

The 2023 law being modified penalizes retailers who charge more than 25% above the average price of essential goods or services during the 60-day period before a declared emergency.

The bill would add tree trimmers and providers of restoration and mitigation services to the list of contractors who could not charge unconscionably excessive prices for labor in comparison to the market price.

Nor could they charge an insurance company a rate that exceeds what residential contractors otherwise charge members of the general public.

Tabke said price-gouging contractors not only harm the people they are fleecing with excessively high prices, but they also drive up insurance premiums for everyone.

“We are looking for ways to address rising premiums and this bill is a small step that we have to achieve that end goal,” he said.

The attorney general’s office oversees price-gouging investigations and fines.

Violators could be fined up to $1,000 per sale or transaction, with a maximum penalty of $25,000 per day.


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