Lawmakers seek to tweak price gouging law

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Sen. Louise Borja Muna expressed concern about the possible price gouging of face masks due to fear of the coronavirus.

Lawmakers want an update to the language governing price gouging during a state of emergency on the island.

Senators Tina Muna Barnes and Joe S. San Agustin introduced Bill 208-35, which would expand the definition of the word “disaster” in the current law.

In a prepared statement at a public hearing, Muna-Barnes says in order to protect consumers from price markups, the word “catastrophe” should be amended to be any: “catastrophic event for which the Governor declares a state of emergency exists.”Edit date andtate of emergency exists.”

And, that the law goes into effect, not just when Guam is in Conditions of Readiness 1, 2 or 3 but anytime the governor declares a situation that requires emergency assistance on Guam.

Senators testifying at the hearing say the updated language could now encompass dengue fever and the coronavirus.

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“I, too, just want to chime in that I’ve heard many stories, whether it be social media or even people just talking to me on the side about price gouging, or what’s believed to be price gouging. Most especially recently, with the coronavirus and people purchasing face masks. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m here to support the intent, to make sure our consumers are protected,” Sen. Louise Borja Muna said.

As it currently stands, the law only names major disasters such as typhoons, floods, and tsunamis.

The law will continue authorizing Guam’s Attorney General to investigate, should anyone feel they’ve been a victim of price gouging.

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