Although competition and demand drive prices in our free-market economy, during a declared state of emergency the Governor may prohibit price increases on items that he considers to be “necessary” to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health, or safety of persons or their property. The Governor must identify the specific goods and services to which the “price gouging” law applies. Price increases on the products and services specified by the Governor are only permitted if they accurately reflect an increase in the cost of new stock or the cost to transport it, plus the retailer's average markup percentage applied during the ten days immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency.
The Governor can declare a state of emergency in response to, or in anticipation of, a natural disaster or a national security emergency. All counties in the state are covered, unless the executive order declaring the emergency is limited geographically to certain counties. The Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Unit has the authority to investigate allegations of illegal pricing, with the assistance of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Violators can be fined from $2,000 to $15,000 per violation.