Lawmakers hold public hearing on price gouging - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers hold public hearing on price gouging

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Concerned about businesses raising rates or con artists looking to make a quick buck following a major storm, the state is taking a tougher stance on price gouging.

Lawmakers said they want a little more heft to the state's anti-price gouging bill. Right now it's already illegal to raise rates on consumer goods following a storm.

Now legislators want to add lodging along with storm cleanup and repair work to the list.

Along Connecticut's shore, residents are still picking up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy last October. That's why lawmakers said they want to make sure that when the next big storm hits, when homeowners go looking for help, businesses and contractors can't jack up the prices.

Currently businesses can't raise the rates on any consumer goods for sale in declared disaster areas.

Under the new proposal, it would also be a crime to increase prices on services and lodging whenever the governor proclaims a severe weather event.

That would include items like generators, hotel rooms, snow removal, flood abatement along with post-storm cleanup and repair.

The Department of Consumer Protection would be looking for what lawmakers are calling "unconscionably excessive price increases."

They would be focusing on the current rates and comparing them to a 30-day period before the storm.

As for any penalty, any offender caught price gouging could face charges along with a fine.

The public hearing is set for 1 p.m. at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

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