Some residents of Oregon are expressing concern about a proposed bill that would allow them to fill their own gasoline.
An bipartisan group comprising state legislators introduced legislation earlier this week to allow customers the ability to manage pumps on their own, providing that gas stations maintain a few full-service pumps still manned and maintained by employees.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only two U.S. States that require gas stations have full-service pumps. Many Oregonians enjoy this feature, which is both practical and character-defining. They have successfully resisted any attempts to reform the Beaver State’s mandate for full-service.
In 2015 and 2017, a pair of bills legalized self service pumps for counties with fewer than 40,000 people. Drivers would sometimes be stranded in rural stations without 24 hour access to fuel. As a COVID-19 relief measure during the pandemic, the state allowed self-service pumps temporarily. But this was for only a couple of months.
In the end, a 2019 bill which would have allowed gas stations for customers to take 25% off their pumps was rebuffed by the state Legislature.
Unfazed, the fuel nozzle freedom fighters come back with a radical proposition and a better marketing campaign to promote it.
Under lawmakers’ H.B. The H.B. 4151 allows gas stations to have one or two pumps that can be self-serviced. Smaller stations would need at least two staff members to operate the pumps. A business with at least nine pumps may be able to provide self-service for up to 60% of their customers.
“This legislation will provide relief for gas stations struggling to remain open during labor shortages, for station attendants racing to serve waiting customers, and for drivers stuck in line at the pump,” said bill sponsor Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R–Albany) to KOIN. It’s an Oregonian win.
The bill’s proponents also created an “Oregonians are Choice at the Pump” website, which allows citizens to write their representatives supporting the bill.
According to the U.S., 48 states allow their drivers to fuel up on their own. Oregonians should have a choice. Website asks.
Self-service reform of the gas pumps is being blocked by those who shout, “Help!” Some Oregonians believe that the status quo works better for them and is more fair for employees at gas stations whose jobs may be in danger if deregulation occurs.
If The Oregonian The company asked its Facebook fans, “Would it be possible to pump your own gasoline?” Many commenters had a quick and negative reaction.
“No. I do not want to. One man replied, “I don’t want people to lose their jobs.” “This law has no heart and is being promoted by greedy businesses that would like to fire employees and get more money.” “Nope!!” “Nope!” wrote another woman. “I value having somebody who’s employed and understands what they are doing do it for my benefit.”
This attitude wasn’t shared by everyone. Some commenteders stated that they’d be happy to pump their own fuel if it reduced the time spent at gas stations. It remains to be determined if this will suffice to pay the self-service bill.
This would benefit both drivers who want to drive their own vehicles and owners of gas stations who wish to redirect employees towards higher-value jobs.
This is not to suggest that the removal of state mandates would be free.
Oregon’s perennial self-service gas pump debate is a good example of the power of people choosing a strict, absurd status quo to have more freedom than an innoxious little.
Every day, thousands of motorists in America can safely and efficiently use fuel nozzles. This has allowed states to reduce the number of gas station attendants who are out-of-work.
Oregonians are worried that 49th attempt at self-service could prove disastrous, despite having 48 successful examples. These fears can be overcome by self-service supporters who must write compromise legislation or create public relations campaigns about the “choice of the pump”.
The learned helplessness displayed by Oregon drivers is easy to mock. However, economist Alex Tabarrok states that “we all Oregonians” in some way or another.
That is to say, every jurisdiction in the U.S. imposes some unnecessary, irrational, or onerous restriction on freedom that its neighbors manage to do without—whether that’s a ban on unlicensed barbers or a requirement that restaurant patrons show proof of vaccination to eat inside.
People around the world have an opportunity to consider what senseless or trivial regulations they may be adhering to due to Oregon’s hard-fought battle to legalize self serving pumps. If that bill passes, every one of us will have an opportunity to reflect on the nanny states within.