PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A bill that would allow Oregonians the choice to pump their own gas advanced to the House floor Tuesday after a vote by the Joint Committee on Transportation.
The committee passed the vote on House Bill 4151 after approving an amendment to it.
The amendment would not allow filling stations to have more self-serve pumps than they have assistant-attended pumps. It would require them to post signs that state which fuel dispensing pumps are designated for attended service and the phone number for the Oregon State Fire Marshal. It ensures the price charged for self-service fuel dispensing is the same as assisted dispensing and says the State Fire Marshal can impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per day for any gas station that violates the rules set forth in the law.
At the work session Tuesday, lawmakers shared a variety of opinions on the proposed bill. Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, who expressed concern about the bill in a Feb. 8 Transportation Committee meeting, stated again that he was concerned about enforcing the bill.
“This is a complaint-driven system. That means people have to take the time to decide to call the fire marshal. They have to take the time to decide to make those phone calls and to make that complaint. In many cases, that’s not going to happen,” he said.
He also said he’s concerned about a reduction in available service to disabled and elderly people who need help at the pump.
Several lawmakers said they enjoy having their gas pumped for them, but said they understand many Oregonians would like this option. Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, is a primary co-sponsor of the bill. She said she’s heard complaints from many people who have experienced long wait times at gas stations lately and said the bill is meant to help with the labor shortage gas stations are experiencing.
Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, said she wonders if allowing self-service and not requiring gas stations to have as many attendants will in fact speed things up — or if people will continue to wait in line.
Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, shared similar concerns to Nathanson. He said he previously worked at Fred Meyer and that even at self-service check stands, long lines can form.
Lawmakers also pointed out how their experiences at gas stations could vary, depending on which district they live in. Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said he’s been pumping his own gas for years now after Oregon passed a law in 2018 that allows retailers in counties with less than 40,000 people to allow self-service gas pumps.
He said this bill is a win-win because it preserves the option of having attendants to pump gas, but also addresses the labor shortage. He said he does not think it will put anyone out of work.
Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie, said she believes the law could make attendants’ lives easier.
“I know my own gas station attendant is often enormously overworked and works through holidays and I’ve seen people be very curt and sometimes mean after having to wait,” she said. “So I think this sort of strikes the right balance.”
The committee voted 10-3 to advance the bill to the House floor and referred it to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.