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First Take

When I moved to Oregon, some of my friends in Idaho said I’d soon get disgusted at the no-self-serve gas stations – the state law that bans self-serve. It’s turned out not to be much of a nuisance at all. Never mind that it actually has been plenty popular in the state; voters repeatedly have rejected proposals to end the requirement, which Oregon shares only with New Jersey. Now, however, it will be eased back a bit, at least in rural areas at night. Here’s a press release on it from Representative Cliff Bentz of Ontario, who as the legislator living furthest from Salem has surely had to deal with his share of nighttime fillups.

House Bill 3011, brought by Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), has passed the House, Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown last week. The bill allows Oregonians to “self-serve” gasoline at rural gas stations between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Rep. Bentz said: “This is a good day for those who find themselves low on gas in remote parts of Oregon late at night. No longer will they have to wait until the next day for a station to open. Instead, they will be able to serve themselves at those gas stations which choose to install self-serve pumps.”

The bill addresses the all too common occurrence in Eastern Oregon, where hundreds of miles can separate gas stations, many of which do not stay open 24-hours per day. Travelers driving across the vast spaces of Eastern Oregon who are unfamiliar with long distances between stations and the fact that gas is not available 24/7 in many of Eastern Oregon’s small towns, can become stranded, having to wait until a station opens in the morning.

“Gas station owners, and sometimes ranchers and farmers, are awakened by stranded travellers pounding on their doors in the middle of the night to come out and pump gas,” said Rep. Bentz.

The bill applies to only those counties with a population of less than 40,000 people.

I doubt there’ll be much blowback from the voters. – rs

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