Friday, November 16, 2012

Right to Repair Passes in Massachusetts … by 85%

The following comes from
“When the final votes were tallied, 2,332,438 voters were in favor of Question 1, with only 393,625 in opposition, for an astounding 86% to 14% victory. “Voters sent a clear message to automakers– it’s my car, I paid for it, I’ll get it fixed where I want, not where some big corporation tells me to,” said Art Kinsman of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee. “Right to Repair is about true ownership. When you buy a car from a manufacturer’s dealer, you ought to have the information necessary to fix that vehicle. Technology should never leave the rights of car owner behind.” It is now illegal in Massachusetts for automakers to withhold repair and diagnostic information, not just for passenger cars, but for motorcycles, RV’s and bigger trucks and construction vehicles. By supporting Question 1, voters told big car manufacturer’s they are tired of paying significantly more for their out-of-warranty repairs at a franchised dealership. “We have now achieved complete victory in Massachusetts on Right to Repair. Until there is a national Right to Repair law or agreement, we hope this emboldens other states to strike a blow for car owners and pass their own Right to Repair statutes,” said Kinsman. Kinsman promised that members of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition will be vigilant following today’s vote to ensure there is complete compliance with the law and that independent repairers and car owners will have the resources they need to ensure they receive the full benefit of this landmark consumer protection law.”

Hmmm. Looks pretty bleak. 85% of Massachusetts was represented by Art Kinsman of the Mass RTR Committee (sounds so official), who is a small town lobbyist lawyer representing AAIA. This was the David that slew Goliath. I wonder who represented the interests of the auto industry? Probably a big firm with big excuses for failure. But, wait, didn’t we get a compromise bill signed by Deval Patrick before the vote? Yes we did! Here’s the status of this compromise from the Sentinel and Enterprise:

After years of commercials, a last-minute legislative compromise and an overwhelmingly approved ballot referendum, the battle over "Right to Repair" in Massachusetts is still not over. Automakers are urging state lawmakers to prevent the ballot question from becoming law. They favor a compromise signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in late July, when it was too late to pull the Right to Repair question off the ballot. … We think the Legislature should move to insure the provisions on this compromise law are the real law, the final law, as soon as possible," said Daniel Gage, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group that has opposed Right to Repair legislation. "The Legislature should move right away to give us the clarity automakers and dealers and auto repairers need." It remains unclear how lawmakers will address the issue, said state Rep. Theodore Speliotis, a Democrat from Danvers who chairs the legislative committee that worked on this summer's compromise. Under the ballot legislation, automakers are required to make repair information available to independent shops and dealers by 2015. The compromise legislation gives automakers until 2018. "I don't think it's that big a deal, to be honest with you," said Speliotis. "The message is more important than the actual implementation date." Automakers see it differently. With auto manufacturers already designing 2015 model vehicles, Gage said it will be virtually impossible for them to comply with the regulations in such a short time span. "It means Massachusetts car purchasers will have to go to Rhode Island or New Hampshire or Vermont or Connecticut to buy a car if it's not available in state," said Gage. … Proponents of Right to Repair, meanwhile, say they are willing to negotiate a deal with the Legislature that includes elements of the ballot legislation and the compromise law. "I think everyone has to take a breath and say, 'Let's look at these election results,'" said Arthur Kinsman, a spokesman for the Right to Repair Committee, which was a leader in getting the issue on the ballot. "We can't just go in and snap our fingers and dismiss what was done by the people. It would be unseemly and disrespectful to the vote." (

Bottom Line: Local small town lobbyists got RTR passed by 85% in Massachusetts. It will spread from here.

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