The Massachusetts state legislature ended its formal session on July 31 without taking action on SB 2517, the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Bill. The bill had been referred to the state’s House Committee on Ways and Means, and the committee opted to take no action. The bill passed the Massachusetts Senate earlier this summer.
As a result, it is unlikely that the legislation will be considered in the Massachusetts legislature’s informal session for the remainder of the year. Other controversial bills prevented debate on Right to Repair in the House of Representatives before the scheduled end of formal sessions.
Citing "tremendous progress," the Right to Repair Coalition says it’s committed to work again next legislative session to enact the new law. The coalition says it has been successful in raising awareness of the need to enact legislation that would require OEMs to provide repair information to independent repair shops.
"The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition is energized by the 8,000 calls generated by consumers and independent repairers who asked their lawmakers to stand up to big car manufacturers. We vow to come back stronger than ever," said coalition spokesman Art Kinsman. "This is a piece of unfinished business that has a major impact on every person who owns a car."
The Automotive Service Association, which opposes the legislation, pointed out that eight states and the U.S. Congress have said failed to pass Right to Repair legislation so far.
"Every legislative body that has considered this legislation has said no," said Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive. "Countless resources have been spent by the legislation’s proponents to pass a bill that is not necessary and will only complicate how repairers conduct day-to-day business. These monies could have been used to train so many of our technicians and provide them the information technology to compete in the repair of automobiles today and in the future."
Pyle added that the bill is unnecessary because independent repairers already can access OEM repair information.
"Much of the public message offered by the proponents has been that independent repairers can’t repair their customers’ cars because they can’t get service information. This simply is not the case," said Pyle. "Our members are open for business, and they can repair consumers’ vehicles without the help of the Massachusetts state government and court system."
However, the Right to Repair Coalition says that the bill is key to keeping repairers in business and to help consumers save money.
"The out-of-state car manufacturers have waged war on Massachusetts consumers and the 32,000 hard-working men and women who provide for their families by working in jobs related to the Commonwealth’s independent auto repair industry," Kinsman said. "The manufacturer’s shameful anti-consumer and anti-small business campaign was entirely based on scare-tactics and unsubstantiated claims. The Massachusetts Senate saw through their falsehoods and passed the bill unanimously."
Kinsman also noted that 23 Massachusetts newspapers editorialized in favor of SB 2517.
"Time will always be on the right side of a good bill as long as this issue is active on Beacon Hill," said Kinsman. "When you consider that this issue was new to most people although they quickly realized the need we’re pleased we were able to bring it this far. We know one thing: If a final vote is taken, we have the votes to win overwhelmingly."
Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition
Automotive Service Association