Mississippi Attorney General Wants Power to Limit Price Increases in Advance of Emergencies

Michael Giberson

Mississippi has a price gouging law which allows the state government to prosecute businesses that raise prices on certain kinds of retail goods and services during a “state of emergency” (as officially declared by the state’s governor). Now the Mississippi Attorney General discovered that businesses were working around the legal barrier to price increases during declared emergencies by raising prices in anticipation of a state of emergency being declared.

Solution? The AG plans to propose to the state legislature that the Mississippi Attorney General gain the ability to declare a state of emergency only for the purpose of enforcing price-gouging laws (while continuing the governor’s authority to declare emergencies to permit deploying state resources, access federal funding, and streamline local government response).

I guess a few business owners were able to outwit a cumbersome price control law that requires official action by the governor, but business owners won’t be able to outwit a cumbersome price control law that requires official action by the AG himself. Or, at least, the AG must think so.

Currently in Mississippi the price gouging law only applies to the counties included in the state of emergency, but the AG has previously urged that price gouging restrictions always apply state-wide.

Related stories: The Mississippi Attorney General has cited the owner of the Select 10 Motel on Interstate 55 in north Jackson for misdemeanor price gouging.

A state court has ruled that a Mississippi woman who quit her hotel job rather than cooperate with instructions to raise the hotel’s rates during the Hurricane Katrina state of emergency three years ago was entitled to unemployment benefits.

Elsewhere: Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services is still on the look out for price-gouging as Tropical Storm Hanna approaches.

From Pakistan, “Grocery sellers gouging customers with Ramazan prices“:

On the first of Ramazan, City District Government Karachi (CDGK) Deputy District Officers (DDO) arrested 37 profiteers and collected around Rs 513,800 from 346 others. Nonetheless, the prices of Ramazan essentials have been increasing day by day…

Mittha, a citrus fruit, was available for Rs 20 per dozen a day before Ramazan and now, although the CDGK has fixed its price at Rs 25 per dozen, it is being sold at Rs 60 per dozen. The price of melons has also gone up to Rs 60 per kg from Rs 15 since the start of Ramazan….

One retailer told Daily Times that normally he has to pay Rs 50 each to the area police and CDGK anti-encroachment personnel to prevent them from removing his roadside stall. “Even they double their charges during Ramazan,” he said.