Central Oregon

Special report: Outrageous Oregon laws

Whistling underwater to not pumping your own gas

Special Report: Outrageous Oregon Laws

BEND, Ore. - Most Oregonians tend to follow the laws of the land? but what if some laws didn't make sense?

Some would take issue about some laws being a good or bad thing, such as not feeding the ducks at the park, or not pumping your own gas. But there are odder ones on the books - or are they?

We wanted to know what outrageous laws were on the books here in the Beaver State. While gathering the facts, we also learned about some of these laws that were too outrageous to believe. 

Like no ice cream on Sundays, no whistling under water, and women can't wrestle in Salem?

"A lot of (officials) don't know about them," said COCC political science professor Rodney Hanson. "They don't even know where they are -- they are in some files. It's not like they have them listed every one of those."

Hason said usually government officials will pass these laws because there was a need seen at the time, but end up just staying in the books with no time limit, being forgotten. 

"All those were passed years ago by local city councils, state Legislatures -- and then they never go back to check on their statues or ordinances."

He said some Oregonians may not think of these laws as outrageous. Hanson said some of the laws reflect on the community's religious values.

So is that why we have a "no ice cream on Sundays" law? We went looking for the answers, but no luck.

Even the office of state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, was unable to track it down.

So does the law even exist?

"It's very hard to find all the laws. They just keep piling up, and they're in files in county offices," Hanson said. "And very few cities want to spend the time to go back and say, 'Okay, do we still have this?' -- and a lot of cities have."

Have you ever whistled under water? Well someone in Portland did -- a long time ago. The city of Portland said they couldn't find that particular law, but found something similar. 

So what about women not being allowed to wrestle in Salem? Well, it turns out it's only an urban legend -- made up but surviving over time. 

These laws may have existed once upon a time, but over time they've been forgotten, with no government oversight.

One Oregon law which has been in place since the 1950s will be a lot different come this January. 

The state Legislature earlier this year passed House Bill 3011, which will allow gas station in low-population counties to become self-serve during the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Jefferson and Crook counties will be affected by this law. 

In Prineville, many people said they wouldn't mind pumping their own gas. 

Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states in the U.S. that don't allow people to pump their own gas, requiring them to leave it to an attendant. 

Still, overall, Hanson said, "This state is fiercely independent. They don't like, in many ways, a lot of government control."

He said Oregon voters have shown they need to be very convinced when it comes to repealing a state law. 


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