PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A bill that would allow all Oregonians the option to choose between pumping their own gas or having an attendant pump it for them may soon receive a vote from the Senate.
Oregon is one of only two states – New Jersey being the other – that require attendants to pump gas for customers. There are currently laws in place allowing people in rural Oregon counties to pump their own gas, and drivers of diesel vehicles can also pump their own gas.
If passed, House Bill 2426 would change Oregon law and require gas stations statewide to allow customers to pump their own gas if they choose. It would require that gas cost the same amount no matter what service a person chooses and would not allow stations to have more self-service pumps than they have attendant-service pumps.
HB 2426 passed the House on March 20. On Tuesday, May 2, a public hearing on the bill was held in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.
At the public hearing, verbal testimony leaned in favor of the bill’s passage. Several gas station owners spoke to lawmakers and said that since the pandemic, they’ve had a difficult time hiring attendant positions and this bill would allow them to serve more customers with fewer employees.
“I have had to go to great lengths to keep employees or attract employees. If a customer comes in and I think they might want to work, I offer them a job,” said Louis Hernandez, who owns gas stations in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties.
According to the bill, businesses would need to have clearly visible signs that indicate which pumps are designated for self-service and which are for attendant service.
“We know that workforce shortages have caused issues for businesses and consumers alike, causing significant constraints and delays at fueling stations. Some gas stations have had to close pumps down or even close for the day because of worker shortages,” said Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, who’s co-sponsoring the bipartisan bill with Republican Rep. Daniel Bonham from The Dalles.
Bonham said he knows older Oregonians or people who have special needs will still require assistance at the pump, but believes this bill is balanced in a way that will continue to serve everyone.
“I really do think it’s the right time with the right set of parameters with the given consideration to the different jurisdictions on how to approach this,” he said.
Matthew Copenhaver was the only person who provided verbal testimony against the bill at Tuesday’s hearing. He said he worked at a gas service station for over 20 years and witnessed numerous customers engaging in behaviors near the pump that are not allowed.
He has seen them do things like light cigarettes while they’re fueling their vehicles, use their cell phones when they should be paying attention to fueling their car, or go into the convenience store while they’re filling their car’s tank with gas – leaving it unattended. He feels allowing customers to pump their own fuel unattended creates greater risks.
No future committee meetings or floor sessions have been scheduled yet for HB 2426, but proponents of the bill said they hope this committee public hearing will lead to a Senate vote.
The legislative session ends June 25.