You can now pump your own gas in Oregon—but that could change in 2024

Welcome to the Tuesday, December 5, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Oregon voters could weigh in on initiative to prohibit self-serve gas stations in 2024
  2. Biden at 40% approval at the end of November
  3. On this date in 1989: North Dakota voters rejected a measure to mandate seat belts

Oregon voters could weigh in on initiative to prohibit self-serve gas stations in 2024

In August, Oregon ended its 72-year ban on self-service gas stations, leaving New Jersey as the only state that prohibits automobile drivers from pumping their own gasoline. But a union-backed initiative could give voters the opportunity to restore the ban in 2024. 

The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 55 filed two versions of the initiative in October and November to require gas pump attendants. Proponents have until July 5, 2024, to collect 117,173 valid signatures.

In 2017, then-Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill allowing motorists to pump their own gas in 15 rural counties. The proposed 2024 initiative would eliminate that exception. However, it would allow motorcyclists to fuel up on their own if an attendant hands them the nozzle.

UFCW Local 55’s initiative reads: 

  • “The Oregon Legislature erred by passing House Bill 2426 in 2023, which has had the effect of putting Oregonians out of work and making gas stations less accessible for persons with disabilities for the purpose of increasing oil company profit.” 
  • “For decades, Oregon stood shoulder to shoulder with New Jersey as the last bastions of resistance to self-serve gas. The Beaver State should restore its historic alliance with the Garden State in defense of jobs and accessibility.”

Michael Selvaggio, political director for UFCW Local 555, said, “Getting self-serve gas hasn’t helped anyone. It has, however, put people out of work, made [getting gas] less accessible and made stations more dangerous. The only pro side is if you’re an oil company.”

The union represents employees at grocery stores, some of which sell gasoline. 

Gov. Tina Kotek (D) signed HB 2426 on Aug. 4. The Senate approved the bill 16-9, while the House voted to do so 47-10. Oregon has a Democratic trifecta

Reps. Boshart Davis (R) and Julie Fahey (D) sponsored HB 2426. In an op-ed, they wrote: “This solution carefully balances the needs of Oregon consumers, businesses and employees. The bill ensures access for elderly customers, people with disabilities and anyone else who would rather be served by an attendant. It would simplify the current patchwork of rules drivers now encounter as they travel across the state. Importantly, it also protects existing jobs.”

Oregon has put the question of permitting self-service gas stations on the ballot before. In 1982, Oregon voters rejected Measure 4 57.56% to 42.44%. It would have allowed people “other than owners, operators, or employees to dispense gasoline at retail locations.”

Oregon banned self-service gas stations in 1951, citing fire risks, among other things. Oregon wasn’t alone at the time, however, since self-service gas stations were the exception rather than the norm until the 1970s. Most states had to amend their fire codes to allow for self-service stations. 

As of Nov. 30, 52 initiatives have been filed in Oregon for the 2024 ballot. Between 1985 and 2022, Oregon voters decided on 279 ballot measures—approving 135 (48.39%) and defeating 144 (51.61%).

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Biden at 40% approval at the end of November

Every weekday, we update our polling indexes on presidential and congressional approval, the direction of the country, and the generic congressional vote using the most recent data from a range of national sources. Let’s check in on the latest numbers. 


  • Approval polling averages at the end of November showed President Joe Biden (D) at 40% approval. This was one point lower than his approval rating at the end of October. Fifty-six percent of voters disapproved of his performance. 
  • Throughout November, Biden’s approval rating ranged from 40% to 41%
  • Biden’s lowest approval rating during his presidency was 38%, on July 27, 2022. His highest approval rating is 55%, on May 26, 2021.
  • At this time during the Trump administration, presidential approval was three points higher at 43%, and congressional approval was four points lower at 20%.


  • At the end of November, congressional approval was 24% and disapproval was 64%
  • The lowest approval rating for the 118th Congress was 15% on Oct. 10. 
  • The highest approval rating was 33% on April 21.

Ballotpedia’s polling index takes the average of polls conducted over the last thirty days to calculate presidential and congressional approval ratings. We average the results and show all polling results side-by-side because we believe that paints a clearer picture of public opinion than any individual poll can provide. 

Bookmark the link below to stay up to date with the latest polls.
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On this date in 1989: North Dakota voters rejected a measure to mandate seat belts 

Speaking of ballot measures, here’s an older one from 30+ years ago. We have tens of thousands of articles about statewide ballot measures that have appeared before voters stretching back to the early 19th century. Pick a random day of the year, and there’s a decent chance that voters in one or more of the 50 states decided at least one ballot measure—and that we have an article about it.  

We have several ways to look through our historical ballot measures repository. You can search for ballot measures by year, state, or topic.

So, what happened today, and where? When we punch Dec. 5 into our ballot measure database, we find that North Dakota voters rejected the Seat Belt Requirement Referendum in 1989.

The measure would have required drivers and front-seat passengers of cars to wear seatbelts. Voters rejected the measure 59.29% to 40.71%.

Citizens for Safety Belts backed the campaign. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Hartz said, “Compliance with the safety belt law can substantially reduce the horrendous personal and family devastation that results from motor vehicle accidents. Education alone will not work; we have tried education for 25 years with minimal results. States that have passed safety belt usage laws are now experiencing lower injury rates and fewer fatalities.”

A Citizens Coalition of Responsible Drivers opposed the measure. John Gosbee, co-chair of the coalition, said, “We believe the arguments against the law are basically the importance of acceptance of responsibility for critical life choices.” 

Although voters said no to mandatory seat belt laws in 1989, they changed their minds in 1994 when they approved Measure 2 51.88% to 48.12%. Measure 2 made it a violation for a driver to operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless each front seat occupant wore a seat belt.

The measure made violations secondary offenses, meaning law enforcement officers could only issue a citation for violating the safety belt law if they had stopped the driver for a separate incident. That changed in 2023, when the North Dakota Legislature approved legislation allowing law enforcement to issue fines for seat belt law violations. That law took effect in August. 

No states mandated seat belts before 1984. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation study on federal motor vehicle safety standards from 1960 to 2012, “The greatest jump in seat belt use took place from 1984 to 1987 as buckle-up laws took effect in 29 States, including all ten most populous States. New York’s law was the first, effective December 1, 1984, followed by New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan…by 1995, 49 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had buckle-up laws.”

New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require adults to wear seat belts. State lawmakers have periodically considered—and rejected—legislation to change that, including most recently in 2023

Click below to read more about historical ballot measures. 

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