SACRAMENTO, CA – Today legislation to combat price gouging, coauthored by Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) and sponsored by Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer and San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, was signed into law. SB 1196, tightens California law to assist law enforcement officials in prosecuting instances of price gouging that are committed by new sellers during an emergency.
“It’s unconscionable to use a state of emergency for a quick buck,” said Senator Chang. “I’m grateful the governor supported this bill, helping law enforcement prosecute perpetrators of price gouging. Californians shouldn’t have to pay inflated prices for toilet paper or hand sanitizer. This bill ensures that price gougers cannot prey on consumers’ in need of essential items.”
“Exploiting the public’s fear and panic is not a defense to engaging in criminal activity,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Existing law left a loophole that allowed opportunists to take advantage of a crisis and overcharge customers for a product just because they had never sold that product before. This important legislation closes that loophole and ensures that those who shamelessly exploit people’s vulnerabilities during a time of emergency are prosecuted. In this case we do not reward 'entrepreneurship.'"
Under current law, price gouging is illegal and punishable by law during a declared state of emergency. However, the code hasn’t been revisited in nearly 30 years, and while it prevents established sellers of specified goods from committing price gouging, it is silent to new sellers in a market place.