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Senate Committee Moves Price Gouging Bill

Senate Bill 28 would protect Alaskans from exorbitant prices for heating fuel, diesel, and gasoline

JUNEAU- Members of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee passed Senate Bill 28 out of committee this afternoon.  Senate Bill 28, sponsored by Senators Bill Wielechowski, Hollis French and Johnny Ellis, protects Alaskans who are dependent on refined petroleum products from being charged “unconscionable” prices for heating oil, diesel and gasoline.

“Alaskans are sick and tired of being gouged at the pump,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage.   “They are asking why they are being charged so much for gas when the state produces nearly 600,000 barrels a day of oil and that oil is being refined right here in Alaska.  Plus we have the lowest gasoline taxes in the nation.  They deserve an answer.”

“Many families also struggling to keep their homes warm, particularly in rural areas, and want to know what can be done to ensure that prices charged for heating oil are fair and reasonable,” he added.  “Businesses are also collapsing under the weight of sky high fuel prices.  They need change to be competitive.”   

Senate bill 28 does not set or control pricing.  It simply requires the state’s Attorney General to investigate claims against refiners, distributors or retailers that may be charging excessive prices.  If a company can show their prices are reasonable, no further action would be taken. 

“Alaska’s gas prices are more than 40 cents above the rest of the nation’s,” said Senator Wielechowski.  “Alaskans have a right to know whether this is justified or not.  They deserve accountability and fairness.”

“Other states have these important consumer protections in place,” he added.  “It is time for us to give Alaskans the same protections from unfair and predatory practices.”

Senate Bill 28 now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for further approval.

For more information, please call Senator Wielechowski at 907-242-1558 or Thomas Presley at 907-465-2435.

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