Governor’s Disaster Declaration Gives Attorney General Increased Authority

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott reminded North Texans that state law prohibits price gouging in the wake of Gov. Rick Perry’s disaster declaration for Dallas, Tarrant and Kaufman counties in response to the recent severe weather and tornadoes. Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as groceries, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the crisis.

“During declared disasters, state law prohibits vendors from dramatically increasing the price of necessities,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans in the declared disaster areas of Dallas, Tarrant and Kaufman counties should take steps to protect themselves and report any suspected price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General.”

The governor’s disaster declaration for widespread damage from the tornadoes that ripped through North Texas on Tuesday is effective only in the three named counties. A disaster declaration triggers stiffer penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and includes proven incidences of price gouging by businesses. These heightened enforcement penalties protect Texans against those who charge exorbitant fees for necessities.

To further protect Texans who need property improvements after a natural disaster, a newly enacted state law sponsored by Rep. John Davis and Sen. Mike Jackson prevents contractors who offer to perform disaster repair work from requiring homeowners to provide full or partial payment prior to the contractors beginning work. Contractors are also barred from charging a partial payment in any amount disproportionate to the work that has been performed.

Source: Texas Attorney General