Harrisburg, Pa. − June 23, 2022 − Senators Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) and Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny) are joining House Democrats in offering real solutions for working families facing rising prices everywhere from the gas pump to the grocery store shelves. They are proposing two pieces of legislation that address the roots of the economic challenges facing our families today: protecting our small businesses and stopping price gouging.
The Pennsylvania Small Business and Consumer Protection Act will help to rebalance the current economy, which only benefits the rich and powerful. For decades, large companies have purchased smaller businesses, creating concentrated power in sectors of our economy such as utilities and energy, internet and phone, and health care and insurance. This leaves consumers with fewer options for everything—the things they buy, the services they use, and the places they work. Once big businesses own the market, they’re free to set high prices and exploit workers.
“We’re seeing this more as massive corporations become the only players in the market, giving consumers the illusion of choice,” said Senator Williams. “We see it in Pittsburgh as independent physicians are swallowed up by UPMC, as independent hardware stores go out of business, and as many households only have one choice for high-speed internet. This lack of meaningful competition in the marketplace only benefits one side: big corporations. Middle class Pennsylvanians are literally paying the price.”
The Stop Price Gouging Act will strengthen the Attorney General’s ability to prosecute individuals and businesses that collude to artificially and unfairly raise prices on goods bought or sold in Pennsylvania. The bill will also provide protections to whistleblowers to encourage individuals with knowledge of price gouging to come forward.
“Pennsylvanians are feeling the burn of the rigged economy that only benefits wealthy corporations and special interests. Simply implementing a gas tax holiday is not a solution because there is no guarantee that oil and gas companies will stop raising rates to make more money. Corporate handouts to an industry that has been raking in record profits for months does not help consumers; in fact, it could make the price at the pump increase,” Muth said. “We must demand that the Majority party in Harrisburg and Washington take urgent action to pass meaningful legislation to stop powerful entities – like utility companies and energy providers – from price gouging, break up corporate monopolies to ensure a fair and open market, and end the exploitation of workers and consumers. I am honored to work with Senator Williams on legislation that offers permanent solutions to ensure economic fairness and protections for workers and consumers.”
Similar legislation was introduced earlier this week in the State House of Representatives as House Bill 2677 and House Bill 2641 by Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny).