_h0347__
HB 0347

1
A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to price gouging during a declared state
3of emergency; creating s. 501.161, F.S.; providing
4legislative findings and intent; providing definitions;
5prohibiting price gouging during a declared state of
6emergency; providing penalties; providing an effective
7date.
8
9Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
10
11     Section 1.  Section 501.161, Florida Statutes, is created
12to read:
13     501.161  Price gouging during a declared state of
14emergency.--
15     (1)  The Legislature finds that:
16     (a)  During emergencies and major disasters affecting the
17health, safety, and welfare of persons in this state, some
18individuals and merchants have taken unfair advantage of
19consumers by greatly increasing prices for essential equipment,
20commodities, or accommodations.
21     (b)  Pricing of essential equipment, commodities, or
22accommodations is generally best left to the marketplace under
23ordinary conditions, but during a state of emergency declared by
24the Governor price gouging must be discouraged.
25     (2)  It is the intent of the Legislature to protect
26consumers from excessive and unjustified increases in the prices
27charged during a declared state of emergency for essential
28equipment, commodities, or accommodations and to punish any
29person who is found guilty of price gouging consumers within the
30state during a declared state of emergency.
31     (3)  For purposes of this section, the term:
32     (a)  "Essential equipment, commodities, or accommodations"
33means any goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies,
34equipment, resources, or other article of commerce, including,
35but not limited to, food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum
36products, and lumber, necessary for consumption or use as a
37direct result of the state of emergency. The term also includes
38any temporary accommodation, such as a hotel, motel, other
39transient lodging facility, or residential accommodation, sought
40by persons seeking shelter during the state of emergency.
41     (b)  "Price gouging" means knowingly renting or selling, or
42attempting or offering to rent or sell, essential equipment,
43commodities, or accommodations, whose consumption or use is
44necessary because of the emergency, at an unconscionable price
45during a declared state of emergency, unless such increase in
46price is caused by actual costs incurred in connection with such
47essential equipment, commodities, or accommodations.
48     (c)  "Unconscionable price" means a price equaling or
49exceeding 110 percent of the average price charged for such
50essential equipment, commodities, or accommodations during the
5130 days immediately prior to a declaration of the state of
52emergency.
53     (4)(a)  It is unlawful for any person in the state to
54engage in price gouging during a declared state of emergency.
55     (b)  Any person who knowingly violates paragraph (a)
56commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by
57imprisonment of up to 60 days or a fine of up to $500, or both.
58If a person in violation of paragraph (a) illegally received
59$300 or more as a result of his or her price gouging, he or she
60commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by
61imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
62     Section 2.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2005.


CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

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