A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor extends states of emergency for baby formula, fuel, keeps price-gouging laws in place

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear has extended two states of emergency to keep Kentucky’s laws against-price-gouging in effect, one dealing with the baby formula shortage the other on the price of gasoline and other motor fuels.

The baby food shortage began after Abbot Nutrition, the largest manufacturer in the United Sates with 40% of the market share, began recalling a number of batches of the formula and ceased production at its plant in Michigan, due to potential contamination. Supply-chain issues, hoarding and price-gouging have resulted, according to the governor’s emergency declaration, which was first issued on June 9, and has now been renewed two more times.

Gov. Beshear at his regular press conference. (Photo by Tom Latek/Kentucky Today)

The Michigan plant resumed production in June, but was forced to stop after two weeks, due to flooding caused by severe weather, delaying production and distribution of their products for several weeks.

When he issued the first declaration, the governor said implementing the price-gouging laws can ensure families are not being charged more than they should to obtain a critical supply of formula needed to feed their babies.

“We have not yet received any reports of price-gouging,” he noted, “but we are seeing them in other states.”

The gas and motor fuels state of emergency was first issued on June 23, after the national average price of a gallon of regular gas topped $5.00, and diesel rose to $5.81, according to AAA; and the Attorney General’s office reported receiving 263 price-gouging complaints on gasoline.

The U.S. EPA denied a request by the Governor to waive the use of Reformulated Gasoline in the Louisville area, which adds 20 to 30 cents to the cost of a gallon. They have not yet responded to another request he made to allow the use of butane as a motor fuel additive, which is considerably cheaper, and was done for a period in 2021.

In his latest emergency declaration on motor fuels, Beshear stated, “Rising inflation in the United States is hurting Kentuckians daily. As a result of this inflation and the Russian war against Ukraine, the prices of consumer goods and gasoline that our families depend on, are increasing at a record pace.”

The price-gouging law outlines the sale or rental of goods and services when a state of emergency is in effect, and states that no person shall sell or rent an item for a price, “which is grossly in excess of the price prior to the declaration.”

A 10% increase is used as the benchmark under the law; however, retailers can raise prices above that level if they are being charged more by their suppliers.

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