The Georgia state Senate has passed a bill that would allow station owners to charge higher prices for gas the moment an emergency is declared, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The bill comes less than two years after Gulf hurricanes caused a run on gas, as well as price gouging.
The Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs worries the measure could make it difficult to prosecute a gas station for price gouging.
The bill was originally intended to provide the governor more flexibility in deciding which products would fall under gouging laws during an emergency. But the original bill-backed by Gov. Sonny Perdue-was rewritten by the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and now would allow stations, in an emergency, to increase gas prices to what they think it will cost to replenish the fuel they have on site.
This is in contrast to the current state law, which prohibits stations from making greater profits once the governor designates an emergency.
Jim Tudor, a longtime lobbyist for the convenience store industry who worked on the bill, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it’s only fair to let stations charge what it would cost to replenish their gas because they have to pay for the fuel up front when the supply is gone.
The governor’s office objects to the change and is working with lawmakers and lobbyists to rewrite the Senate bill.
The committee’s chairman, John Bulloch (R-Ochlocknee), said the change was made because in an emergency, retailers of other products, such as plywood, are allowed to charge the higher prices immediately.
Tudor, the convenience store lobbyist made the same argument.
“Right now the state allows, during the state of emergency, for replacement cost pricing for plywood, which is a very volatile product,” Tudor told the paper. “What we have attempted to show the state is that motor fuels is even more volatile.”