“Right to Repair” Ballot Question Passed by 75% of Voters in 2020
After a one-year delay involving a challenge to the voter-approved Right to Repair Act, The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition is urging the court to come to a “prompt resolution” before the lawsuit’s one-and-a-half-year anniversary. According to the blog Repairer Driven News, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) filed a lawsuit in November 2020 requesting a halt to the voter-approved law. On July 1st, the Coalition notes that it will have been more than “1 and 1/2 years since the voters approved Right to Repair by a 75-25 margin.” While a decision had been expected earlier this year, an April 15 procedural order prompted the federal court to delay a decision until at least July 1st.
In response to this procedural delay, the Right to Repair coalition filed an Amicus Brief outlining why the court should delay no longer in issuing a decision. In particular, the Coalition highlighted the following arguments it made in its brief:
- “During this delay, the automobile manufacturers are unfairly benefiting, winning new customers for their franchised dealerships, and consumers are losing. A prompt ruling upholding the Act is necessary to remedy this situation, which is contrary to the will of the voters.” (p. 5)
- “…delay has also been an integral part of auto manufacturers’ strategy in frustrating the ongoing efforts of consumers and independent repair shops to obtain fair and equitable access to vehicle diagnostic data needed to maintain and repair vehicles. Thus, the Committee submits this brief to request a prompt decision on this matter.” (p. 2)
- “Contrary to the clearly-expressed desires of the Massachusetts electorate, manufacturers are successfully controlling access to vehicle data, excluding independent repair shops and vehicle owners and limiting this crucial data to their own franchised dealers.” (p. 4)
The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition represents more than 4,000 members statewide, including independent repair shops, Massachusetts auto parts stores, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts, the New England Tire and Service Association, Automotive Recyclers of Massachusetts, and the Automotive Oil Change Association.
Two Bills to Amend Right to Repair Law
As for the Massachusetts Legislature, it is considering two bills filed in January of this year that seek to amend the Right to Repair Law. The first, H.400 filed by Steven S. Howitt would include a disclosure notice in the amended law with regards to telematics in owner’s manuals while H. 365 entitled an “An Act relative to the right to repair motor vehicle data law” filed by Rep. Finn of West Springfield seeks to extend the implementation of the Right to Repair law from 2022 to 2025. The new statute text encompassing both changes is incorporated into H.365 and would read as follows:
SECTION 2. Said Chapter 93K is hereby amended by striking subsections (g) and (h) of Section 2, as most recently amended by section 4 of said chapter 386, and inserting in place thereof the following subsection (g):-
(g) The Attorney General is hereby directed to establish a motor vehicle telematics system notice which a vehicle manufacturer shall include in the owner’s manual provided for its new motor vehicles beginning with model year 2025 vehicles and which shall include the following information: (i) an explanation of motor vehicle telematics and its purposes; (ii) a description summarizing the mechanical data collected, stored, and transmitted by a telematics system; (iii) the prospective owner’s ability to access the vehicle’s mechanical data through a mobile device; and (iv) an owner’s right to authorize an independent repair facility to access the vehicle’s mechanical data for vehicle diagnostics, repair, and maintenance purposes.
In response to these bills, which as of March 21, 2022 were referred to the committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Tommy Hickey, Director of the Massachusetts Right Repair Coalition issued the following:
“After spending $26 million only to be resoundingly defeated at the ballot box, the big automakers and dealers still don’t get it. Massachusetts consumers have spoken, and the law now gives them the right to control their own repair data so that they can get their car fixed where they want. However, instead of listening to their customers and attempting to comply with the ballot initiative, automakers and dealers filed a baseless, anti-democratic lawsuit. Now, they are again trying to thwart the will of the voters and “kick the can down road” by using the Legislature to delay the law’s deadlines. We hope and expect that the Legislature will honor the will of their constituents, who voted by a 75% majority for Right to Repair.”