The City Sentinel, Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, has been joined by nearly a dozen fellow members of the Senate in asking Interim Attorney General Dawn Cash to investigate allegations of price gouging and market manipulation in the building supply industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other members joining Rogers in requesting the investigation were, from Oklahoma City and the metro area, Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman; and Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City.
Other members of the upper chamber from across Oklahoma included 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; and Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington.
Rogers said construction material price spikes have been a top concern among many constituents for the past several months and noted the 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.”
Rogers said the Oklahoma Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits any increase of more than 10% for the price of goods or services during a declared emergency and for up to 30 days after the emergency ends. The statute allows the Office of Attorney General to pursue charges against individuals or businesses that engage in price gouging.
Additionally, Rogers said other business practices or agency regulations relating to interstate commerce in the industry could be abused to create market manipulation. He requested the office to work with the U.S. Attorney General to identify other violations along those lines.