Minnesota governor signs executive order prohibiting price gouging amid COVID-19 pandemic

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed three more executive orders Friday, including one prohibiting stores from price gouging amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Price gouging is the process of significantly marking up the prices of items in response to market changes, such as high demand during a disease outbreak. 

Minnesota has no law on price gouging. The order, which prohibits price gouging during the peacetime emergency, brings Minnesota in line with most other states in the nation. 

The prohibition takes effect on Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. 

Minnesotans can report instances of price gouging by calling 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787. Complaints can also be made online. Anyone found to be in violation of the order are subject to investigation and enforcement by the Attorney General’s office.

On Thursday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told FOX 9 more than 150 people had called his office to complain about price gouging. The price of toilet paper, surgical masks, bleach and rice are the most common complaints. 

The other two executive orders the governor signed Friday ensure that critical services will continue for the state’s most vulnerable populations. 

One of the executive orders authorizes the Minnesota Department of Human Services commissioner to seek federal authority to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements for federal programs, including but not limited to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, to ensure the programs continue providing necessary support to Minnesota families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third executive order allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay.