Policy hearing highlights legislation to help end corporate inflation

Expert testifier says proposals would relieve inflation concerns

HARRISBURG, June 22 – The House Democratic Policy Committee convened a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss how corporations are taking advantage of Pennsylvanians through various acts of price gouging and how legislation introduced by House Democrats in Harrisburg can end these unconscionable practices.

“Pennsylvanians are facing rising prices of groceries, gas, and goods. The testimony was helpful in finding the root cause of these increases and how legislation introduced by my colleagues and me that will actually help citizens of the commonwealth,” said Rep. Nick Pisciottano, D-Allegheny, who hosted the hearing. “None of our legislation is partisan and I hope to work with our colleagues in the majority to craft law that will lift the burden so many Pennsylvanians feel today.”

Wednesday’s hearing, titled “Ending Corporate Inflation,” highlighted several pieces of legislation House Democrats have introduced to combat the issue of corporate inflation, which was highlighted during the hearing and a press conference that followed. The Stop Price Fixing Act, introduced by Pisciottano, would enhance the attorney general’s ability to prosecute individuals and businesses artificially raising prices and taking advantage of Pennsylvanians. The End Gas Price Gouging Act, sponsored by Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Phila.) and Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie), would prevent changing gas prices more than once in a 24-hour period and crack down on unconscionable price increases. The Open Markets Act, sponsored by Pisciottano and Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, would end behavior that hurts fair business competition and give the attorney general more power to investigate and prosecute any anti-trust violations.

“It’s utterly ridiculous that massive corporations are producing 300% profits year-over-year while Pennsylvanians pay the price,” said Bizzarro. “House Democrats will not tolerate corporate greed, and we stand with the families and small businesses that are being taken advantage of. Preying on Pennsylvanians in a time of economic crisis is unfair and our plan would put a stop to this highway robbery.”

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Wednesday’s hearing featured testimony from Lee Hepner, Legal Counsel for the American Economic Liberties Project (AELP). The AELP is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to understanding and addressing the problem of concentrated economic power in the United States.

Hepner pointed to a survey by Fight Corporate Monopolies, a branch of the AELP, that showed 73% of Pennsylvania voters believe inflation is a top priority and labeled it “a very serious” problem. He believes legislation introduced by House Democrats would provide immediate relief to Pennsylvania residents and put corporations on notice.

“These proposals address a problem that has attracted universal acknowledgment and gives teeth to existing laws that were designed to address that problem but instead have been eroded over the decade,” said Hepner. “The Stop Price Fixing Act shifts the burden of proof to large corporate actors and creates an “inference of collusion,” giving victims of price fixing a fighting chance. Giving plaintiffs their day in court enhances the likelihood that enforcement cases will be brought, instead of being decided in arbitration settings that are too often tilted against complainants.”

Wednesday’s hearing can be viewed in its entirety at this link. Hepner’s testimony can be found at this link.

Information about this hearing and other House Democratic Policy hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policy.