Ben Botkin

(Oregon Capital Chronicle) Oregonians may soon have the right to pump gas into their vehicles on their own throughout the state, under a bill that cleared the Legislature on Wednesday with approval in the Senate.

The measure, which passed the Senate with a 16-9 bipartisan vote, would allow Oregonians to pump their own gas or continue to get service from an attendant. The bill would allow gas stations to designate self-service pumps, but they still must offer attendant service for at least half of them. Lawmakers kept that requirement intact to help people who need or prefer full service.

“This bill strikes a balance between consumer preferences, business needs, and employment considerations,” the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, said in a statement. “It provides Oregonians choice at the pump, while still protecting access for the elderly and disabled community members.”

The bill heads to Gov. Tina Kotek, who is expected to sign it.

Only Oregon and New Jersey now ban self-service gas, although Oregon has gradually loosened restrictions in recent years. In 2015, lawmakers allowed self-serve gas during nighttime hours in rural and coastal counties to help fuel retailers and drivers. Two years later, lawmakers expanded that to all hours for rural counties.  Oregon also has made other exceptions, such as during wildfires, severe heat waves and COVID-19.

The bill would simplify the patchwork of regulations, supporters say.

Under the bill,  stations in 16 of Oregon’s most heavily populated counties would need at least one attendant present to pump gas for customers who don’t want self-service. Customers in 20 rural counties and motorcycle operators would be able to pump their own gas regardless of whether an attendant is at the station. Those counties are: Baker, Clatsop, Crook, Curry, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler.

Gas stations would have to charge the same amount regardless of what option a customer selects.

A similar proposal failed in 2022 after the state fire marshal estimated the state would need more than $500,000 to regulate the change, a figure that state officials now say is only “minimal.”

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