State lawmakers want to crack down on price gouging of hand sanitizer and other consumer medical products during the escalating COVID-19 pandemic with new legislation introduced this month, after various stores have been spotted price gouging products like Purell hand sanitizer and Lysol disinfectant spray.

Price gouging is technically barred by law already, particularly during a state of emergency (which Governor Andrew Cuomo declared Saturday and Mayor Bill de Blasio declared in NYC on Thursday). Goods vital for the health and safety of consumers sold at an "unconscionably excessive price" can lead to penalties against retailers. But the process ultimately requires courts to determine when a price increase is excessive.

The new legislation aims to set a more clear guideline for what exactly excessive price hikes mean.

"We're trying to cut through the clutter and set a presumptive price level of 10 percent or greater in a public health emergency that would deem it to be price gouging," State Senator Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the bill, told Gothamist. The bill would create a presumption that price hikes greater than 10 percent would be considered illicit gouging, unless retailers can show such increases are related to supply costs.

"It's a standard that has been used across the country in states like California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia," he said. "The 10 percent is an identifiable cap that would both send a message and add clarity to the existing price gouging."

State Assemblymember Nily Rozic, the Assembly sponsor, said in a statement that the legislation "would ensure that no one can prey on consumers' fears and cause widespread panic."

Hoylman added communities susceptible to coronavirus overlap with those vulnerable to price gougers—like seniors on fixed-incomes.

AARP's New York State Legislative representative Bill Ferris said in a statement in support of the bill that it could "help bring an end to this terrible practice," echoing Hoylman that older New Yorkers are "at particular risk."

"Not only is it wrong, but it is dangerous," Ferris said during an Albany press conference.

The legislation gives the New York Attorney General the power to enforce a civil fine up to $25,000 onto manufacturers, retailers, and distributors. The state Department of Health would be able to add items to the list of included products, which includes consumer medical products like sanitizer, wipes, and over the counter drugs, according to the bill.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has attempted to curtail lack of hand sanitizer access by launching state-made sanitizer, made with the labor of underpaid prisoners making an average of 65 cents per hour. It remains unclear how most consumers can get the state's sanitizer though, since it is currently being distributed to high-risk areas.

Cuomo's office did not respond to requests for comment on the bill, but Hoylman feels confident it could be passed swiftly since it already has 12 co-sponsors in the Senate.

"We think this will add another tool to governments' kit to ensure that vulnerable communities don't get doubly hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak," Hoylman said.