"SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Monday approved the nation’s first penalty for price gouging at the pump, voting to give regulators the power to punish oil companies for profiting from the type of gas price spikes that plagued the nation’s most populous state last summer.
The Democrats in charge of the state Legislature worked quickly to pass the bill on Monday, just one week after it was introduced. It was an unusually fast process for a controversial issue, especially one opposed by the powerful oil industry that has spent millions of dollars to stop it.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom used his political muscle to pass the bill, which grew out of his call last October for a special legislative session to pass a new tax on oil company profits after the average price of gas in California hit a record high of $6.44 per gallon, according to AAA. Taking on the oil industry has been a major policy priority for Newsom, who is widely viewed as a future presidential candidate."