Right to Repair advances in Massachusetts

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Updated Dec 28, 2011

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition on Tuesday, Dec. 27, announced that it has received an official letter from the Secretary of State’s office confirming that 83,180 signatures have been approved from every region of the state, far more than the 68,000 signatures required. This action moves the Right to Repair question toward the state’s 2012 ballot.

“The number of signatures gathered in support of the ballot measure demonstrates that Massachusetts car owners value their ability to control where their vehicle is serviced, whether it is at a dealership or one of the thousands of independent repair shops in the Commonwealth,” says Kathleen Schmatz, president and chief executive officer of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. “We feel confident that next November, Massachusetts citizens will vote strongly in favor of the Right to Repair measure.”

The Massachusetts Right to Repair voter initiative would allow consumers to access all of the nonproprietary repair information required to have their vehicles repaired where they choose, at a new car dealership or an independent shop. The proposed law would require that car companies provide independent shops with access to their diagnostic software through a standardized vehicle interface and utilizing a generic laptop, thus leveling the playing field between the big car manufacturers’ dealerships and independent neighborhood repair facilities. If enacted, the ballot measure will permit all independent shops to obtain affordable just-in-time access to the latest nonproprietary automobile diagnostic and repair information that currently is available to the manufacturers’ dealers and their new car dealerships.

The Right to Repair Act was introduced in Massachusetts for the 2011-12 legislative session by Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham) and Sen. John Hart (D-South Boston) and has more than 60 co-sponsors. The legislature is expected to hold a committee hearing on the ballot petition in February and has until May 1 to act, whereby they can preclude the need for a ballot measure by enacting the Right to Repair Act.

“We are hopeful that Massachusetts lawmakers will pass Right to Repair legislation in the coming months, but if they do not act, Massachusetts voters will have the last word, thus ending the battle that has pitted the large vehicle manufacturers against the state’s consumers and the independent aftermarket,” says Sandy Bass-Cors, executive director of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality.