2005 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Franks, Peranich, Lott
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 75-24-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE PRICE RESTRICTION FOR GOODS AND SERVICES DURING EMERGENCIES SHALL APPLY STATEWIDE; TO AUTHORIZE THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO MONITOR PETROLEUM BASED FUEL PRICES THROUGHOUT THE STATE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 75-24-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-24-25. (1) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meanings herein ascribed:
(a) "Person" means a natural person, corporation, trust, partnership, incorporated or unincorporated association, or any other legal entity.
(b) "State of emergency" means the duly proclaimed existence of conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons or property within the state caused by air or water pollution, fire, flood, storm, epidemic, earthquake, hurricane, resource shortages or other natural or man-made conditions other than conditions causing a "state of war emergency," which conditions by reasons of their magnitude are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county and/or municipality and require combined forces of the state to combat.
(c) "Local emergency" means the duly proclaimed existence of conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the territorial limits of a county and/or municipality caused by such conditions as air or water pollution, fire, flood, storm, epidemic, earthquake, hurricane, resource shortages or other natural or man-made conditions, which conditions are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of the political subdivision and require the combined forces of other subdivisions or of the state to combat.
(d) "Value received" means the consideration or payment given for the purchase of goods and services.
(2) Whenever, under the Mississippi Emergency Management Law, Sections 33-15-1 through 33-15-49, a state of emergency or a local emergency is declared to exist in this state, then the value received for all goods and services sold within the state shall not exceed the prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods or services in the same market area at or immediately before the declaration of a state of emergency or local emergency. However, the value received may include: any expenses, the cost of the goods and services which are necessarily incurred in procuring such goods and services during a state of emergency or local emergency. The prices ordinarily charged for comparable goods or services in the same market area do not include temporarily discounted goods or services. The same market area does not necessarily mean a single provider of goods or services.
(3) Any person who knowingly and willfully violates subsection (2) of this section, when the value unlawfully received is Fifty Dollars ($50.00) or more, shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall be punished by confinement for a term of not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years or a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both.
(4) Any person who knowingly and willfully violates subsection (2) of this section, when the value unlawfully received is less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00), shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed six (6) months, or both. The circuit court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over violations under this subsection.
(5) In addition to the criminal penalties prescribed in subsections (3) and (4), any knowing and willful violation of subsection (2) of this section shall be considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice subject to and governed by all the procedures and remedies available under the provisions of this chapter for enforcement of prohibited acts and practices contained therein.
SECTION 2. (1) The Legislature finds and determines that the petroleum industry is an essential element of the Mississippi economy and is therefore of vital importance to the health and welfare of all Mississippians.
The Legislature further finds and determines that a complete and thorough understanding of the operations of the petroleum industry is required by state government at all times to enable it to respond to possible shortages, oversupplies or other disruptions and to assess whether all consumers including emergency service agencies, state and local government agencies, and agricultural and business consumers of petroleum products have adequate and economic supplies of fuel.
(2) The Attorney General is authorized to monitor petroleum based fuel prices throughout the state, using the Oil Price Information Services (OPIS) or any other service, approved by the Attorney General, that monitors petroleum based fuel prices throughout the state. The Attorney General may promulgate such rules and regulations necessary to effectuate only his authority to monitor petroleum based fuel prices.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.