OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Senator Vin Gopal will introduce new legislation that would enforce New Jersey’s protections against price-gouging during a global or regional emergency, even if New Jersey is not currently in a state of emergency.
The bill aims to protect New Jersey consumers from potential disruptions in the supply chain caused by international or regional emergencies, including natural or man-made emergencies, disasters, and outbreaks. Under the bill, it would be illegal for any person to excessively increase the price of a consumer good for 30 days after the state issues a declaration observing a market disruption due to an emergency or crisis.
“In a time of emergency, we need to work fast to protect consumers from price-gouging bad actors – even if New Jersey itself is not facing a crisis situation,” said Senator Gopal. “This bill will let state watchdogs work quickly and efficiently to shut down excessive price hikes when global markets are disrupted, protecting consumers in times of uncertainty.”
“The Office of the Attorney General has already received nearly 2,490 complaints about price gouging,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, who sponsored companion legislation (A3837) in the Assembly. “This legislation is timely and necessary to protect consumers in times of excessive market fluctuation and during times of emergency. I applaud the Governor on his actions thus far and urge everyone to report price gouging to the Consumer Affairs office.”
Any New Jersey resident who suspects unfair price hikes on consumer goods during an emergency can alert the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6240, or online. Under the bill, an “excessive increase” in the price of a good is defined as an increase of 10 percent or more, unless the increase was caused by additional costs imposed by the seller’s supplier or created by the market disruption itself.
Under the bill, the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety would also be directed to notify consumers of any emergency-caused market disruptions on its public website.