State officials are looking for new ways to protect consumers from price gouging during an emergency. Under a state law passed last year, the Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection must develop guidelines to prevent retailers from charging excessive prices during an emergency. A draft of the proposal would prevent retailers from charging more than 10 percent of their highest price within 60 days of an emergency declaration from the governor.
Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection Janet Jenkins says rule they hope to adopt later this year does provide exceptions for when the actual cost of a product goes up. She says higher costs can be passed on if the wholesale price of a product actually exceeds the 10 percent limit. As an example, Jenkins says the rule being considered probably wouldn't have prevented high gas prices after Hurricane Katrina.
DATCP will be holding public hearing on the proposed rule over the next week in Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Madison.