SALEM, Ore. — A bill that would let drivers pump their own gas in Oregon sailed through the state House on a 47-10 vote Tuesday, sending the bill on its way to the Senate. If it passes there, it will go to the governor for a signature.
House Bill 2426 wouldn't eliminate attendants; it would require gas stations to keep half of their pumps for attendants, and gas stations would be required to offer self service and attendant service at the same price. But Oregonians statewide could, for the first time since 1951, legally choose to fill up their vehicle on their own or let an attendant handle it.
Oregon is one of only two states, along with New Jersey, that doesn't give drivers that option.
Polls in recent years indicate a majority of Oregonians want a choice between pumping their own gas or letting an attendant serve them.
Proponents of the bill, which has bipartisan support, said it would speed up gas lines and ease staffing shortages at gas stations.
"Giving stations the option to have some of those closed pumps be open as self service would benefit consumers, station owners and workers," said Rep. Julie Fahey, a Eugene Democrat and one of the bill's sponsors. "Personally, at the grocery store, I usually use the attended checkout lanes. But if there's a long line and I'm in a hurry, and I only have a few items, I will go to the self-checkout lanes. I expect I will do the same thing with pumping my own gas. … Giving consumers a choice in this way just seems like common sense to me."
Another sponsor of the bill, Rep. Shelly Boshart-Davis, a Republican from Albany, said small-business owners reached out and asked for help.
"In committee, we heard from many local small-business owners about how they can't find workers for these positions now," Boshart-Davis said. "In fact, most likely you've experienced it as well: Long lines at the gas station because pumps are roped off or cones are in front of pumps — because they don't have enough staff to work them."
Opponents voiced concern over the immediacy of implementation — if the bill is signed into law, it would go into effect immediately — and whether passage of this bill would lead to an eventual elimination of attendant service.
Rep. Jami Cate, a Republican from Lebanon who voted against the bill, said she reached out to her constituents to find out what they thought about it. She said she was surprised by their responses.
"I was very moved at the paragraphs that were written of fear of where this moves to, of fear that if we move to a fully self-service state, that people with disabilities, that people who don't feel safe at gas stations at night would have to get out of their cars," Cate said. "And really just that uncertainty of are we taking steps toward a fully self-service state for our fueling?"
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