Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson reminds Florida residents that the Tallahassee-based department's price-gouging hotline, which was activated two weeks ago for Tropical Storm Fay, remains operational for Tropical Storm Hanna.

"We're encouraging the public to report to us any instances of price-gouging that they come across," Bronson says, in a news release.

Under Florida law, it is unlawful to charge excessive prices for essential items - including shelter, gasoline, food, water, ice, generators or lumber - following the declaration of an emergency, unless the increased charges are attributable to additional costs incurred by retailers.

Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency for Fay last month, and he signed another executive order earlier this week designating a state of emergency for Hanna.

Individuals or businesses found to have engaged in price gouging face fines of up to $1,000 per violation, or up to a maximum fine of $25,000 a day.

Bronson asks residents who have any evidence that price gouging has occurred or is occurring to report it at once to the department's toll-free hotline at (800) 435-7352.