Critical bill to shield Californians from price gouging passes legislature

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Claudia Deeg

Consumer protections are more important than ever during COVID-19 pandemic


SACRAMENTO – A key bill to protect consumers from price gouging during the COVID-19 crisis passed the California Senate with a bipartisan 39-0 vote Monday. The state Assembly had already passed the bill, so it is now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. 

The legislation, Senate Bill 1196, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Umberg, will strengthen California’s current price gouging prohibition. The bill will close a loophole that currently allows new sellers to substantially increase the prices of essential items such as face masks and hand sanitizer. It will also codify the governor’s and legislature’s authority to extend protections against price gouging.

In response, Claudia Deeg, CALPIRG Campaign Associate, released the following statement:

“The Senate’s vote today sends a clear message to scammers and unscrupulous sellers across the state: price gouging is profiteering, and this predatory behavior will not be tolerated in California.

“Back in March, at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, our analysis showed that price gouging was rampant in online marketplaces including Amazon. We are still finding overpriced items for sale online five months later. No one should be ripped off when trying to get critical supplies needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, least of all during a pandemic and economic crisis.

“We applaud the California Legislature for decisively approving SB 1196. This bill is a critical step toward ending price gouging in our state, and we urge Gov. Newsom to sign it into law as quickly as possible.”