2006 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Gollott, Jackson (11th)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 75-24-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE PENALTY PROVISIONS REGARDING PRICE GOUGING; TO AMEND SECTIONS 33-15-5 AND 33-15-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM; 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" has the meaning ascribed in Section 33-15-5.
(c) "Local emergency" has the meaning ascribed in Section 33-15-5.
(d) "Emergency impact area" has the meaning ascribed in Section 33-15-5.
(e) "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 designated emergency impact area 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 total value * * * received during a twenty-four-hour period is Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) 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 total value * * * received during a twenty-four-hour period is less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), 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.
(5) For the purpose of determining the punishment to be imposed under subsections (3) and (4) of this section, the value received during a twenty-four-hour period shall be aggregated.
(6) 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. Section 33-15-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
33-15-5. The following words, whenever used in this article shall, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context, have the following meanings:
(a) "Agency" means the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, created by Section 33-15-7.
(b) "Director" means the Director of Emergency Management, appointed pursuant to Section 33-15-7.
(c) "Emergency management" means the preparation for, the mitigation of, the response to, and the recovery from emergencies and disasters. Specific emergency management responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
(i) Reduction of vulnerability of people and communities of this state to damage, injury and loss of life and property resulting from natural, technological or man-made emergencies or hostile military paramilitary action.
(ii) Preparation for prompt and efficient response and recovery to protect lives and property affected by emergencies.
(iii) Response to emergencies using all systems, plans and resources necessary to preserve adequately the health, safety and welfare of persons or property affected by the emergency.
(iv) Recovery from emergencies by providing for the rapid and orderly start of restoration and rehabilitation of persons and property affected by emergencies.
(v) Provision of an emergency management system embodying all aspects of preemergency preparedness and postemergency response, recovery and mitigation.
(vi) Assistance in anticipation, recognition, appraisal, prevention and mitigation of emergencies which may be caused or aggravated by inadequate planning for, and regulation of public and private facilities and land use.
(d) "Civil defense," whenever it appears in the laws of the State of Mississippi, shall mean "emergency management" unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
(e) "State of war emergency" means the condition which exists immediately, with or without a proclamation thereof by the Governor, whenever this state or nation is attacked by an enemy of the United States or upon receipt by the state of a warning from the federal government indicating that such an attack is probable or imminent.
(f) "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 requires combined forces of the state to combat.
(g) "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.
(h) "Emergency" means any occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or man-made, in war or in peace, which results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property.
(i) "Man-made emergency" means an emergency caused by an action against persons or society, including, but not limited to, emergency attack, sabotage, terrorism, civil unrest or other action impairing the orderly administration of government.
(j) "Natural emergency" means an emergency caused by a natural event, including, but not limited to, a hurricane, a storm, a flood, severe wave action, a drought or an earthquake.
(k) "Technological emergency" means an emergency caused by a technological failure or accident, including, but not limited to, an explosion, transportation accident, radiological accident, or chemical or other hazardous material incident.
(l) "Local emergency management agency" means an organization created to discharge the emergency management responsibilities and functions of a political subdivision.
(m) "Disaster" means any natural, technological or civil emergency as defined in this section that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a declaration of an emergency by a county or municipality, the Governor or the President of the United States. Disasters shall be identified by the severity of resulting damage, as follows:
(i) "Catastrophic disaster" means a disaster that will require massive state and federal assistance, including immediate military involvement.
(ii) "Major disaster" means a disaster that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state and federal assistance.
(iii) "Minor disaster" means a disaster that is likely to be within the response capabilities of local government and to result in only a minimal need for state or federal assistance.
(n) "Disaster Reservist" means any person hired on a temporary basis pursuant to State Personnel Board policies and procedures regulating personal service contracts, that is hired to perform specific tasks related to a Governor's State of Emergency, or by an emergency or disaster declaration of the President of the United States, by the agency, and is assigned to perform such duties as may be required under the direction of the appropriate agency supervisor.
(o) "Emergency impact area" means the area of the state in which market conditions exist due to a state of emergency creating a likelihood that prices ordinarily charged for goods and services could be raised unfairly due to the underlying emergency.
SECTION 3. Section 33-15-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
33-15-11. (a) The Governor shall have general direction and control of the activities of the Emergency Management Agency and Council and shall be responsible for the carrying out of the provisions of this article, and in the event of a man-made, technological or natural disaster or emergency beyond local control, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within this state.
(b) In performing his duties under this article, the Governor is further authorized and empowered:
(1) To make, amend and rescind the necessary orders, rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this article with due consideration of the plans of the federal government, and to enter into disaster assistance grants and agreements with the federal government under the terms as may be required by federal law.
(2) To work with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in preparing a comprehensive plan and program for the emergency management of this state, such plan and program to be integrated into and coordinated with the emergency management plans of the federal government and of other states to the fullest possible extent, and to coordinate the preparation of plans and programs for emergency management by the political subdivisions of this state, such local plans to be integrated into and coordinated with the emergency management plan and program of this state to the fullest possible extent.
(3) In accordance with such plan and program for emergency management of this state, to ascertain the requirements of the state or the political subdivisions thereof for food or clothing or other necessities of life in the event of attack or natural or man-made or technological disasters and to plan for and procure supplies, medicines, materials and equipment, and to use and employ from time to time any of the property, services and resources within the state, for the purposes set forth in this article; to make surveys of the industries, resources and facilities within the state as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this article; to institute training programs and public information programs, and to take all other preparatory steps, including the partial or full mobilization of emergency management organizations in advance of actual disaster, to insure the furnishing of adequately trained and equipped forces of emergency management personnel in time of need.
(4) To cooperate with the President and the heads of the Armed Forces, and the Emergency Management Agency of the United States, and with the officers and agencies of other states in matters pertaining to the emergency management of the state and nation and the incidents thereof; and in connection therewith, to take any measures which he may deem proper to carry into effect any request of the President and the appropriate federal officers and agencies, for any action looking to emergency management, including the direction or control of (a) blackouts and practice blackouts, air raid drills, mobilization of emergency management forces, and other tests and exercises, (b) warnings and signals for drills or attacks and the mechanical devices to be used in connection therewith, (c) the effective screening or extinguishing of all lights and lighting devices and appliances, (d) shutting off water mains, gas mains, electric power connections and the suspension of all other utility services, (e) the conduct of civilians and the movement and cessation of movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic during, prior and subsequent to drills or attack, (f) public meetings or gatherings under emergency conditions, and (g) the evacuation and reception of the civilian population.
(5) To take such action and give such directions to state and local law enforcement officers and agencies as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this article and with the orders, rules and regulations made pursuant thereto.
(6) To employ such measures and give such directions to the state or local boards of health as may be reasonably necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this article or with the findings or recommendations of such boards of health by reason of conditions arising from enemy attack or the threat of enemy attack or natural, man-made or technological disaster.
(7) To utilize the services and facilities of existing officers and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof; and all such officers and agencies shall cooperate with and extend their services and facilities to the Governor as he may request.
(8) To establish agencies and offices and to appoint executive, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article including, with due consideration to the recommendation of the local authorities, part-time or full-time state and regional area directors.
(9) To delegate any authority vested in him under this article, and to provide for the subdelegation of any such authority.
(10) On behalf of this state to enter into reciprocal aid agreements or compacts with other states and the federal government, either on a statewide basis or local political subdivision basis or with a neighboring state or province of a foreign country. Such mutual aid arrangements shall be limited to the furnishings or exchange of food, clothing, medicine and other supplies; engineering services; emergency housing; police services; national or state guards while under the control of the state; health, medical and related services; fire fighting, rescue, transportation and construction services and equipment; personnel necessary to provide or conduct these services; and such other supplies, equipment, facilities, personnel and services as may be needed; the reimbursement of costs and expenses for equipment, supplies, personnel and similar items for mobile support units, fire fighting and police units and health units; and on such terms and conditions as are deemed necessary.
(11) To sponsor and develop mutual aid plans and agreements between the political subdivisions of the state, similar to the mutual aid arrangements with other states referred to above.
(12) To collect information and data for assessment of vulnerabilities and capabilities within the borders of Mississippi as it pertains to the nation and state's security and homeland defense. This information shall be exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act, Section 25-61-1 et seq.
(13) Authorize any agency or arm of the state to create a special emergency management revolving fund, accept donations, contributions, fees, grants, including federal funds, as may be necessary for such agency or arm of the state to administer its functions of this article as set forth in the Executive Order of the Governor.
(14) To authorize the Commissioner of Public Safety to select, train, organize and equip a ready reserve of auxiliary highway patrolmen.
(15) To suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives and combustibles.
(16) To control, restrict and regulate by rationing, freezing, use of quotas, prohibitions on shipments, price fixing, allocation or other means, the use, sale or distribution of food, feed, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods or services.
(17) To proclaim a state of emergency in an area affected or likely to be affected thereby when he finds that the conditions described in Section 33-15-5(g) exist, or when he is requested to do so by the mayor of a municipality or by the president of the board of supervisors of a county, or when he finds that a local authority is unable to cope with the emergency. Such proclamation shall be in writing and shall take effect immediately upon its execution by the Governor. As soon thereafter as possible, such proclamation shall be filed with the Secretary of State and be given widespread notice and publicity. The Governor, upon advice of the director, shall review the need for continuing the state of emergency at least every thirty (30) days until the emergency is terminated and shall proclaim a reduction of area or the termination of the state of emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant.
(18) To declare an emergency impact area when he finds that the conditions described in Section 33-15-5(o) exist. The proclamation shall be in writing and shall take effect immediately upon its execution by the Governor. As soon as possible, the proclamation shall be filed with the Secretary of State and be given widespread notice and publicity. The Governor shall review the need for continuing the declaration of emergency impact area at least every thirty (30) days until the emergency is terminated, and shall proclaim the reduction of the emergency impact area or termination of the declaration of emergency impact area at the earliest date or dates possible.
(c) In addition to the powers conferred upon the Governor in this section, the Legislature hereby expressly delegates to the Governor the following powers and duties in the event of an impending enemy attack, an enemy attack, or a man-made, technological or natural disaster where such disaster is beyond local control:
(1) To suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, rule or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster or emergency.
(2) To transfer the direction, personnel or functions of state agencies, boards, commissions or units thereof for the purpose of performing or facilitating disaster or emergency services.
(3) To commandeer or utilize any private property if necessary to cope with a disaster or emergency, provided that such private property so commandeered or utilized shall be paid for under terms and conditions agreed upon by the participating parties. The owner of said property shall immediately be given a receipt for the said private property and said receipt shall serve as a valid claim against the Treasury of the State of Mississippi for the agreed upon market value of said property.
(4) To perform and exercise such other functions, powers and duties as may be necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population in coping with a disaster or emergency.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.