SENATE BILL 6415
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2002 Regular Session
By Senators Prentice, Winsley, Keiser, Kline, Spanel, Gardner and Rasmussen; by request of Attorney General and Governor Locke
Read first time 01/16/2002. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce & Financial Institutions.
AN ACT Relating to price gouging during significant disruption, emergency, or disaster; and adding a new section to chapter 38.52 RCW.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 38.52 RCW to read as follows:
(1)(a) In order to prevent any party from unjust enrichment at the expense of people and to prevent victimization of people and communities vulnerable to price gouging or clearly excessive pricing practices during times of abnormal market conditions caused by significant disruptions, emergencies, or disasters, the legislature declares that the public interest requires that price gouging or clearly excessive pricing be prohibited and made subject to civil penalties.
(b) No person may sell or offer to sell essential consumer goods or services at a clearly excessive price during a significant disruption, emergency, or disaster. It is a defense that the price charged or received reflects reasonable expenses in addition to the prior price of the goods and services, but such reasonable expenses are limited to those which are necessarily incurred in procuring or delivering such goods and services during the significant disruption, emergency, or disaster.
(c) Each sale or offer for sale at a price that is prohibited by (b) of this subsection constitutes a separate violation.
(2) As used in this section:
(a) "Significant disruption, emergency, or disaster" means a significant disruption in the market triggered by terrorist act, civil disorder, war, or military action; convulsion of nature or extreme weather conditions; or national, statewide, or local emergency or disaster, whether formally declared or not.
(b) "Essential consumer goods or services" means goods or services which are vital and necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers, such as consumer and domestic food items; fuel for heat and transportation; and those goods or services and emergency and medical supplies necessary or used in direct response to the significant disruption, emergency, or disaster.
(c) "Clearly excessive price" means a price which, at the time of the transaction, clearly exceeds the price at which similar goods or services were readily obtainable in comparable transactions by consumers immediately before the significant disruption, emergency, or disaster.
(3) The legislature finds that the practices covered by this section are matters vitally affecting the public interest for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW. A violation of this section is not reasonable in relation to the development and preservation of business and is an unfair or deceptive act in trade or commerce and an unfair method of competition for the purpose of applying the consumer protection act, chapter 19.86 RCW.
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