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A.G. voices concern about gas price-gouging bill

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MGN Online

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI)-Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says legislation being considered by the Legislature this session could open the doors to gasoline retailers to price-gouge during declared emergencies.

According to the legislature’s explanation, Senate Bill 1041 would redefine the law, prohibiting excessive pricing as applied to exorbitant or excessive increased prices to the consumer during a declared emergency rather than to the margin between wholesale and retail prices. 

“It’s extremely rare that I speak publicly on the merits of a particular piece of legislation,” said Wasden. “But you deserve to know about this bill. If you believe that gas prices shouldn’t be excessive or exorbitant during an emergency, you need to contact your legislators now and let them know.” 

Wasden says the new law was proposed by the Idaho Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association and he believes it was aimed at limiting his ability to protect consumers. 

During an investigation of COVID-19 emergency-related gas pricing, Wasden’s investigation determined gasoline retailers were making a record margin of 63 cents per gallon.  He said historic margins are closer to 20 cents per gallon.

While retailers were getting their supply at steep discounts, the savings were not passed on to consumers. In fact, Wasden claims increased costs and reduced sales volumes actually inflated margins and allowed retailers’ gas profits to swell.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is currently lying in the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee.    You can learn more about the specific legislation here.

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