< Back to H.R. 3236 (108th Congress, 2003–2004)

Text of the Permanently Inhibit Gougers Act

This bill was introduced on October 2, 2003, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Oct 2, 2003 (Introduced).

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HR 3236 IH

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3236

To prohibit price gouging of products and services that are widely needed during a designated disaster.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

October 2, 2003

Mr. KLECZKA (for himself and Mr. ETHERIDGE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


A BILL

To prohibit price gouging of products and services that are widely needed during a designated disaster.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Permanently Inhibit Gougers Act’.

SEC. 2. CONDUCT PROHIBITED.

    (a) IN GENERAL- It shall be unlawful for any commercial vendor in an area and during a period described in subsection (b) to raise the price of products or services that are widely needed in such an area during such period, by more than 10 percent above the average retail price of such goods or services charged by that vendor during the preceding 90 days.

    (b) APPLICABLE AREA AND PERIOD- The prohibition in subsection (a) shall apply to commercial vendors in areas in the United States which have been designated disaster areas by the President or by the Governor of a State, and shall apply--

      (1) for 90 days after such designation is made; and

      (2) for a period of 7 days before a disaster that results in an area being designated a disaster area, if the disaster is reasonably foreseeable by commercial vendors in such an area during such a 7 day period.

SEC. 3. REGULATIONS.

    Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall prescribe regulations pursuant to section 18(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)) providing that the conduct described in section 2 shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice under section 5 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 45), and implementing the requirements of this Act. Such regulations--

      (1) shall include a list of products and services that are likely to be widely needed in a designated disaster area which shall be subject to the prohibition in section 2;

      (2) may establish a means for determining the average retail price of such products and services charged by a particular vendor during the 90 day period preceding the designation of the area as a disaster area;

      (3) shall include guidelines for determining whether, during the period described in section 2(b)(2), the disaster was reasonably foreseeable to commercial vendors in the area; and

      (4) shall include an exemption for commercial vendors subject to the prohibition in section 2--

        (A) when there is an increase in the wholesale costs to such vendors of products subject to such prohibition; or

        (B) when there is a legitimate increase in the operational costs to such vendors in providing services subject to such prohibition,

      and such vendors raise the price of such products and services no more than the increased wholesale or operational cost to the vendor, plus 10 percent.

SEC. 4. SPECIAL PENALTY PROVISION.

    Notwithstanding subsections (l) and (m) of section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45(l) and (m)), the maximum amount of civil penalty for each violation of this Act and the regulations prescribed under this Act shall be $250,000.

SEC. 5. PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION.

    A person, class of persons, or entity may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of a court of a State, bring in an appropriate court of that State--

      (1) an action based on a violation of this Act or the regulations prescribed under this Act to enjoin such violation;

      (2) an action to recover up to 3 times the actual monetary loss to such person, class of persons, or entity from such a violation; or

      (3) both such actions.

SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This Act shall take effect on the date on which the regulations required by section 3 shall take effect.