Oklahoma AG: Emergency Price Gouging Statute Now in Effect

April 14, 2009

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson announced that the state statute prohibiting price gouging has gone into effect following the devastating fires and violent weather that have plagued the state recently.

The Oklahoma Emergency Price Stabilization Act was triggered after Governor Brad Henry issued a State of Emergency declaration for 31 counties on April 10 following wildfires and severe weather.

“Many of the families affected by last week’s fires are left with little more than the clothes on their backs,” Edmondson said. “We will not tolerate those who would make a bad situation worse by arbitrarily raising the prices of things like hotel rooms and gasoline.”

Counties included in the executive order are: Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Garvin, Grady, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kiowa, LeFlore, Lincoln, Logan, Love, McClain, Murray, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Stephens, Tillman and Washita.

The price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a state of emergency has been declared.

Under the executive order declaring the emergency, state agencies can make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance should it be necessary.

Wildfires injured at least 49 people and damaged or destroyed an estimated 100 homes and other structures, the governor’s office said. Midwest City and the nearby towns of Choctaw and Nicoma Park were especially hard hit, but fires caused significant damage in many other sections of Oklahoma.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized two Fire Management Assistance Grants, or FMAGs, to battle blazes in the Midwest City-Choctaw area and McClain County. State emergency management officials are in the process or requesting additional FMAGs.

Sources: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office; Oklahoma Governor’s Office, Associated Press

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