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Bill gives state option on auto inspections

SALEM ­ Jackson County's auto inspection and maintenance (I&M)station, along with stations in the Portland metropolitan area, could remainstate-operated or be turned over to a private contractor under a bill thatfinally is headed for a vote of the Oregon House.

The Legislature's joint budget committee specified in House Bill 3566that the Department of Administrative Services, not the Environmental QualityCommission, will decide, based on cost, whether to open vehicle emissionstesting to competitive bidding.

The Department of Environmental Quality now runs a station on BiddleRoad in Medford and seven stations in the Portland area to test cars andtrucks for compliance with federal clean-air standards for carbon monoxideand ozone. The 1985 Legislature extended the program to Jackson County.

In response Friday to a question by Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland, Rep.Ben Westlund, R-Bend, said that the amended bill would allow a private contractorto take over operation of the Medford station.

House Bill 3566, which was reported by the House Committee on AgencyOversight and Efficiency more than three months ago, has been awaiting areview by the joint budget committee. It goes to the House, then the Senate.

The bill may be one of the few opportunities for this session of theLegislature to open a state program to private contracting.

The Legislature also considered opening operations of state motor vehicleservices, parks and prisons to private contractors. The Senate has passedSenate Bill 1181, which would allow the Driver and Motor Vehicles (DMV)Services branch of the Department of Transportation to transfer some ofits functions to private contractors. It is in the House Rules Committee.Privatization bills for parks and prisons have not emerged from committees.