OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A group of state senators is calling upon Oklahoma’s interim attorney general to look into alleged price gouging and market manipulation in the building supply industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, made the request to Dawn Cash, who is serving as the state’s interim attorney general, saying that price spikes in construction material has been a top concern for Oklahomans. He said the cost increases have caused project delays and financial hardships.
“I have one constituent who is looking at an additional $100,000 in costs due to these increases. Lumber prices have shot up four to six times higher than what they were about half a year ago. Sheets of oriented strand board that were previously $11 each are now $48 even though they can be manufactured for less than $4 each,” Rogers said. “Hot-rolled, coil steel has spiked almost 270% in less than a year. It’s outrageous, and it’s hurt individuals and Oklahoma businesses.”
The Oklahoma Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits increases above 10 percent for the cost of goods or services during a declared emergency and for up to 30 days after the emergency ends, according to Rogers.
Rogers said that statute empowers the Office of Attorney General to pursue charges against individuals and businesses who price gouge.
Other business practices or agency regulations relating to interstate commerce in the building supply industry could be abused to create market manipulation, Rogers said.
Rogers also asked the attorney general’s office to work with the U.S. Attorney General to identify other violations along those lines.
The following state senators joined Rogers in requesting the investigation: Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair; Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant; Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard; Sen. Kim David, R-Porter; Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain; Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow; Sen. Jake Merrick, R-Yukon; Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt; Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington; Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman; and Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City.