Oregon Lawmakers Consider Repair Shop Business-License Bill

Published May 17, 2017

With the end of the Oregon state legislature’s 2017 session approaching, the fate of a bill that would require business owners operating current or opening new auto repair businesses to purchase licenses from the state government is at stake.

The Oregon House Business and Labor Committee held a public hearing on March 15 on House Bill 3322, sponsored by state Rep. Paul Evans (D-Salem). Since then, no further action has been taken on the bill, and the committee has yet to vote on it. The Oregon state legislature’s 2017 session ends on July 9.

HB 3322 would require auto repair shop owners to pay a $40,000 fee to the state for each shop they own.

‘A Burden on New Businesses’

Steve Buckstein, a senior policy analyst with the Cascade Policy Institute, says Oregon lawmakers haven’t demonstrated a need for the new fees.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” Buckstein said. “Consumers already have recourse. This will simply be a burden on new businesses starting up. It will reduce competition. It’s a $40,000 letter of credit, $1,100 for a license, and $300 for each additional location.

“This basically will keep small auto shops out of the business,” Buckstein said. “Consumers will have fewer choices.”

‘They Get Political Points’

Buckstein says lawmakers are incentivized to create new laws, even if they’re not needed.

“I don’t know if it’s just a matter of, ‘Oh, here’s a business we forgot to regulate,'” Buckstein said. “If one constituent comes to one legislator and says they got ripped off at an auto repair shop and they should be licensed, the legislator might just say, ‘We license all these other things, so let’s do that.’ They get political points with their constituents, but they don’t look at the downside, the harm it causes.”

‘It’s a Wealth Transfer’

William Anderson, a professor of economics at Frostburg State University, says the bill takes from consumers and small business owners and gives to big businesses.

“Let’s face it,” Anderson said. “It’s a wealth transfer. It’s a wealth transfer from the smaller shops who can’t pay for all this stuff. It’s also a wealth transfer from consumers. It will reduce the opportunities for consumers to get their vehicles repaired, and it will drive up consumer costs.”