PORTLAND, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown has issued an executive order declaring an "abnormal market disruption" due to Oregon's wildfire state of emergency — a method for state agencies to crack down on price-gouging in times of distress.
Brown's office said that it has seen reports of "unusual increases in lodging rates" for Oregonians who have evacuated or lost homes from the multiple wildfires burning around the state, prompting concerns that other goods or services could likewise lose availability or rise in price.
"During a statewide emergency, it is absolutely unacceptable to price gouge Oregonians who have already been hard hit and are facing devastating loss,” said Governor Brown. “This order empowers the Attorney General and the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate these instances and take appropriate action if businesses are found to be in violation.”
The Oregon Department of Justice is charged with investigating illegal trade practices. Oregonians who believe they have been subjected to excessive prices for essential consumer goods and services due to this disruption can report these instances to the Oregon DOJ through the Consumer Protection hotline at 877-877-9392. They can also visit www.OregonConsumer.gov for more information.
"As wildfires force thousands of Oregonians to abandon their homes, local businesses have stepped up to ensure that families can find essential goods and services at fair prices," said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "To any who would take advantage of neighbors in need, the Governor's order on price gouging is a reminder that the Oregon Department of Justice will stop them in their tracks."
Brown last declared an abnormal market disruption in March as the coronavirus pandemic sparked similar concerns over price gouging on essential items, particularly cleaning and hygiene supplies. Brown's office said that this order remains in effect.