State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, recently introduced legislation that would prohibit price gouging on essential goods and services during a state of emergency, such as a
- Severe weather event
- Terrorist attack
- Act of war.
House Bills 5714 and 5715, sponsored by Moss, were introduced with bipartisan cosponsors on the one-year anniversary of the wind storm on March 8, 2017, in which 1 million people lost power across the state.
“My office fielded reports of price gouging following that storm, including a motel that jacked up its rates from $59 a night to nearly $400 a night for families who sought emergency shelter away from homes that had lost power or were damaged by downed trees,” Moss said. “Twenty-nine other states already have laws on the books that would prevent these bad actors from exploiting vulnerable people during a time of emergency. We must work to make Michigan the thirtieth.”
Under Moss’ proposal, businesses would be prohibited from increasing the price of essential goods or services, including lodging, from exceeding their highest price in the 180-day period preceding a declaration of a state of emergency.
An exception would be made if the increase was directly attributable to additional costs imposed by a supplier, labor or the cost of materials used to provide service, or if the good or service was on sale.
Hotel operators would be allowed to follow their regularly scheduled seasonal rate adjustments and previously contracted rates. The bill also outlines which goods and services qualify as essential.
An emergency would be defined as a natural or man-made disaster or emergency, including a weather-related event, earthquake, fire, riot, war or threat of war or terrorist attack.
The term of the emergency includes the imminent alert issued in the National Terrorism Advisory System by the United States Department of Homeland Security or the state of emergency declared by the governor.