PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, is one of the chief sponsors of Oregon House Bill 4151, which if passed would allow people in Oregon the option of pumping their own gas. 

The bill is scheduled for its first reading in the House on Feb. 1 and already Oregonians are buzzing about the idea of taking the pump into their own hands. 

Boshart Davis spoke to KOIN 6 News Wednesday about her decision to sponsor the bill and why a change is needed. Here are our questions and her responses: 

Editor’s note: Boshart Davis’ responses were lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: Can you describe the bill for me in your own words? 

A: This bill is in response to a few things. One, there was polling recently done that showed that almost 69% of Oregonians would like the option to be able to pump their own gas. And so this strikes a balance between the needs of the consumers and those businesses trying to supply a service – and that would be obviously supplying fuel and gas to us on a daily basis. But I think that this is the right time because of the labor market and we’re struggling in the labor shortages right now. Gas stations are struggling to keep open and keep enough attendants on duty in order to supply that. 

Q: Was the survey your primary reason for sponsoring the bill? 

A:  It was a major impact to that. That and just listening to those [gas station businesses] that are struggling to stay open. 

Q: What are those places that are struggling to stay open saying? 

A: Well, for example, there was a small business owner in Central Oregon. He’s a father and an immigrant from Afghanistan who’s struggling to keep the service or keep his customers because he can’t find enough attendants to stay open. 

Q: A similar bill was proposed decades ago and did not pass. Do you think this one will? 

A:  I hope that it will and I think that it will. It is a different labor market and I believe that – I’m not sure, you know, why Oregonians have decided. Maybe there’s more here that have moved here from other states and say, “Why can’t I pump my own gas?” And so I think that that has changed and like I said, with the survey showing that almost 69% of Oregonians want this, I think that it is different than it was in previous sessions. 

Q: This bill seems unique in the sense that it’s not doing away entirely with allowing an attendant to pump your gas for you. What was your reasoning behind providing people with the option? 

A: I think there’s enough people that would push back on having no option and just going completely to self-service. And so, I think that for me, the response has been very positive, especially when they know that it’s a choice. 

Q: Is part of the reason [of keeping a choice] intended to help maintain those jobs that still do exist, that are filled with employees? 

A: Yes, that’s definitely part of it, to maintain those jobs and also be able to provide a solution that ensures access for people with disabilities or those who simply prefer having service from an attendant.

Q: People have been asking me on Twitter if I know if this will come with lower gas prices. Is it too early to tell if that will be a result? 

A: Part of the bill actually states that the price is going to stay the same regardless of the choice you make. 

Q: Why is now a time when this is really needed? 

A: I think that now is the time just because we’re seeing the labor shortages in the economy right now that, I don’t know about you, but I’ve driven past or through gas stations where they have cones out because part of their islands are shut down because they don’t have enough attendants. They might be reducing their hours and so, if you go to work or leave early in the morning or late at night, you won’t have as many hours where the gas stations will be open. So, I think right now is the time for that and is a response to both consumers and to employers in making sure that they’re getting what they need in order to provide this for us. 

Q: I know that the original bill that was drafted in, I believe, 1951, it had 17 arguments outlined of why it should be in place, a few being avoiding creating a flammable situation, avoiding slick surfaces, and I believe another one is like leaving kids in the car while you go to pay for your gas. Are any of these still concerns if this bill were to pass? 

A: Well, you know, one thing is we have credit card readers now. They’re at the pump, so that’s different, and that’s funny about 1951. I’ll have to go back, but I would suggest this: that we have an incredible test study across 48 states that have had this in place for years and years and years. And somehow they’re able to do it so that would be my response to the 1951 [law]. I will be looking that up, but it definitely has been happening. And actually, it happens in rural counties now here in Oregon and on the coast because of being able to provide the service for those that are out in rural areas to be able to get gas. It has been happening for, I think since 2015. So, we’ve got a testimony out there that we can do this great.