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Price-Gouging Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina House of Representatives Wednesday approved an expansion of North Carolina's price-gouging law.

House Bill 1231

now goes to Gov. Mike Easley for his signature.

Under the new law, prohibitions against price gouging will take effect whenever the governor declares an abnormal market disruption for critical goods and services. The governor will be able to make that declaration if the president declares a disaster outside of North Carolina that substantially disrupts the market, such as what occurred in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

The declaration of a state of disaster or state of emergency within North Carolina will also put the price-gouging law in effect.

When the law is in effect, the North Carolina Attorney General's Office can investigate potential price gouging and seek refunds for consumers who paid too much. The courts may also impose civil penalties against price gougers of up to $5,000 for each violation.

Unlike the current law, the new law will apply to all levels of the supply chain, from the manufacturer through the wholesaler and distributor to the retail shop.

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