Story last updated at 12/10/2008 - 11:29 am
ANCHORAGE - Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) announced Dec. 1 that he will introduce legislation to make price gouging a crime in Alaska.
More than 30 states have price gouging laws, and legislatures in more than 12 states are considering adopting or strengthening them.
Wielechowski says his bill will focus on ensuring that essential energy supplies are affordable.
"In an energy rich state like Alaska, residents deserve to know they will be charged a fair and reasonable price for critical energy supplies, like gasoline to drive their cars," Wielechowski said.
In the past year, gasoline spiked to almost $5 per gallon in Anchorage and more than $8 per gallon in the bush. Heating oil hit $9 per gallon in some remote communities, and the price of natural gas continues to climb.
"The bottom line is it's not ok to gouge Alaskans on needed energy supplies," Wielechowski added.
The bill will apply when prices skyrocket without justification. Those found guilty can be charged a fine of not more than $25,000 and treble damages.
The bill will also stiffen penalties for anti-trust violations, where it can be proven that two or more suppliers colluded to inflate prices. Alaska's anti-trust penalties are currently woefully inadequate.
"We hope this bill will send a message that price gouging in Alaska will not be tolerated."
Wielechowski said. "We're putting the golden rule into law for those who never learned it."