Ohio legislation would give AG Dave Yost power to limit purchases of in-demand items, fight price-gouging during coronavirus crisis

Jeremy Pelzer | cleveland.com

New Ohio Senate legislation would give Attorney General Dave Yost the power to order limits on how much customers can buy of various in-demand items, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, during the coronavirus crisis.

Senate Bill 301, which has the support of Senate President Larry Obhof and was written with Yost’s input, would also ban price-gouging by retailers. Since the beginning of March, Yost’s office has received more than 400 complaints of businesses — both online and in-person — grossly inflating prices as the coronavirus crisis ramped up, according to a release.

If found guilty by a court, violators could be fined up to $25,000 and be forced to reimburse customers. If a judge issues an injunction ordering a supplier to limit prices or per-customer sales, the supplier must obey that order or pay up to $15,000 for each day that it flouts the order.

Three-fourths of the money paid would go to the state’s consumer protection enforcement fund, and the remaining one-fourth would be given to the county where the infraction took place.

“During unprecedented times like the current COVID-19 pandemic, Ohioans must be protected from immoral individuals or companies that seek to profit off of fear,” said Sen. Nathan Manning, a North Ridgeville Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill, in a statement.

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