Prohibits price gouging on kosher for Passover products; authorizes the department of agriculture and markets to investigate instances of price gouging on such products and to conduct an annual Passover price survey to determine instances of price gouging; authorizes the attorney general to bring an action to stop the alleged price gouging and provides for a civil penalty of $10,000 for an instance of price gouging; establishes a defense to the charge.
Sponsor: DIAZ CONSUMER PROTECTION
Law Section: Agriculture and Markets Law
Law: Add S201-i, Ag & Mkts L
Law Section: Agriculture and Markets Law
Law: Add S201-i, Ag & Mkts L
- Jan 4, 2012: REFERRED TO CONSUMER PROTECTION
- Mar 31, 2011: COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO CONSUMER PROTECTION
- Feb 22, 2011: NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
- Jan 5, 2011: REFERRED TO AGRICULTURE
BILL NUMBER:S115 TITLE OF BILL: REVISED 12/30/11 An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to kosher for Passover product price gouging PURPOSE: To prohibit "price gouging" of kosher Passover products by manufacturers, distributors and retailers who sell such kosher products, during the Jewish Passover season. SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 - Amends the Agriculture and Markets Law by adding a new section 201-i. Prohibits manufacturers, distributors and retailers of Kosher for Passover products from offering to sell such products at an excessive price, during the Passover season. Authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Markets to investigate instances of Kosher for Passover product price gouging during the Passover season. Requires such investigation to include an annual Passover price survey to examine the prices of Kosher for Passover products, before, during and after the Passover season. Authorizes the court to impose a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000, and where appropriate, order restitution to aggrieved consumers. Directs the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement this law, and establish a "Kosher for Passover Products Hotline" for consumers to report complaints of "price gouging". Section 2 - Effective Date EXISTING LAW: Current law does not address the issue of Kosher for Passover product "price gouging". JUSTIFICATION: During the observance of Passover, many manufacturers, distributors and retailers inflate their prices for Kosher Passover products. The former Director of the Consumer Protection Board, Tim Carey, conducted a 1997 product survey which found significant disparities in the pricing of Kosher Passover products from store-to-store and region-to-region. These unfair pricing practices continue today. New York State has a significantly large Jewish population. "Price gouging" of Kosher Products during Passover, is not only an unscrupulous business practice, but it targets Jewish consumers at a time when the demand for such products is at its highest, and forces them to endure this unfair pricing. This bill would eliminate such "price gouging" and enhance consumer protections during the time when the consumer's demand for Kosher Passover Products is at its peak. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011: S.115 - Discharged from Agriculture and Committed to Consumer Protection 2009-10: S.3122 - Referred to Consumer Protection 2007-08: S.768 - Referred to Consumer Protection 2005-06: S.822 - Referred to Consumer Protection 2003-04: S.4367 - Referred to Consumer Protection FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to State or Local Government. EFFECTIVE DATE: The sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.
S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K ________________________________________________________________________ 115 2011-2012 Regular Sessions I N SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________ Introduced by Sen. DIAZ -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Agriculture AN ACT to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to kosher for Passover product price gouging THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. The agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new section 201-i to read as follows:
S 201-I. KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCT PRICE GOUGING. 1. DURING THE PASSOVER SEASON, NO PARTY WITHIN THE CHAIN OF DISTRIBUTION OF KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCTS SHALL SELL OR OFFER TO SELL ANY SUCH PRODUCTS FOR AN AMOUNT WHICH REPRESENTS AN UNCONSCIONABLY EXCESSIVE PRICE. THE DEPART- MENT IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO INVESTIGATE INSTANCES OF KOSHER FOR PASS- OVER PRODUCT PRICE GOUGING DURING THE PASSOVER SEASON. SUCH INVESTI- GATION SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, AN ANNUAL PASSOVER PRICE SURVEY TO EXAMINE THE PRICES OF KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCTS BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE PASSOVER SEASON. 2. WHETHER A PRICE IS UNCONSCIONABLY EXCESSIVE IS A QUESTION OF LAW FOR THE COURT. (A) THE COURT'S DETERMINATION THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION HAS OCCURRED SHALL BE BASED ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING FACTORS: (I) THAT THE AMOUNT OF THE EXCESS IN PRICE IS UNCONSCIONABLY EXTREME; OR (II) THAT THERE WAS AN EXERCISE OF UNFAIR LEVERAGE OR UNCONSCIONABLE MEANS; OR (III) A COMBINATION OF BOTH FACTORS IN SUBPARAGRAPHS (I) AND (II) OF THIS PARAGRAPH. (B) IN ANY PROCEEDING COMMENCED PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION THREE OF THIS SECTION, PRIMA FACIE PROOF THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION HAS OCCURRED SHALL INCLUDE EVIDENCE THAT:
(I) THE AMOUNT CHARGED REPRESENTS A GROSS DISPARITY BETWEEN THE PRICE OF THE GOODS OR SERVICES WHICH WERE THE SUBJECT OF THE TRANSACTION AND EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD03095-01-1 S. 115 2 THEIR VALUE MEASURED BY THE PRICE AT WHICH SUCH KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCTS WERE SOLD OR OFFERED FOR SALE BY THE DEFENDANT IN THE USUAL COURSE OF BUSINESS IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THE PASSOVER SEASON; OR (II) THE AMOUNT CHARGED GROSSLY EXCEEDED THE PRICE AT WHICH THE SAME OR SIMILAR KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCTS WERE READILY OBTAINABLE BY OTHER CONSUMERS IN THE TRADE AREA. A DEFENDANT MAY REBUT A PRIMA FACIE CASE WITH EVIDENCE THAT ADDITIONAL COSTS NOT WITHIN THE CONTROL OF THE DEFENDANT WERE IMPOSED ON THE DEFENDANT FOR THE PRODUCTS. 3. WHERE A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION IS ALLEGED TO HAVE OCCURRED, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MAY APPLY IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK WITHIN THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT IN WHICH SUCH VIOLATIONS ARE ALLEGED TO HAVE OCCURRED, ON NOTICE OF FIVE DAYS, FOR AN ORDER ENJOINING OR RESTRAINING COMMISSION OR CONTINUANCE OF THE ALLEGED UNLAWFUL ACTS. IN ANY SUCH PROCEEDING, THE COURT SHALL IMPOSE A CIVIL PENALTY IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED TEN THOU- SAND DOLLARS AND, WHERE APPROPRIATE, ORDER RESTITUTION TO AGGRIEVED CONSUMERS. 4. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROMULGATE ANY ADDITIONAL RULES AND REGU- LATIONS AS ARE NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A KOSHER FOR PASSOVER PRODUCTS HOTLINE FOR CONSUMERS TO REPORT PRICE COMPLAINTS. S 2. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.