LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -
Even before Friday evening's snowfall and before whatever we get this evening, Governor Beebe had declared a weather-related state of emergency.
The current state of emergency will remain in effect in Arkansas until at least February 18th.
It offers protection against price gouging, allowing providers of essential goods and services to charge no more than ten percent over what they were charging for the same service just prior to the emergency declaration.
Jim DePriest says that several inquiries about possible price gouging are already being looked at by the attorney general's office.
"We've had quite a few regarding the increase in the price of propane and that is something we're investigating right now," says DePriest. "We've had some with respect to wrecker services and generally we get some with respect to things like tree trimming services that people need after an ice storm."
The prices charged for hotel rooms, auto body repair, firewood, home heating oil, generators, and building supplies are also often questioned during a state of emergency.
There is an exemption to the 10 percent price hike rule: if the cost to a provider goes up that cost can be passed on to a consumer...plus ten percent.
For example, if a wrecker service adds an "inclement weather" fee of say $70 to the price of a tow it will have to be justified by greater expenses...maybe overtime paid to employees.
If the additional charge cannot be justified, the company could be guilty of price gouging.
Air date: February 10th, 2014