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Massachusetts Voters to Decide Right to Repair

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"We feel our message has resonated with voters," says Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs at the Auto Care Association.

Will independent tire dealerships and auto repair facilities in Massachusetts have the ability to retrieve telematically transmitted diagnostic and repair data from vehicles? Voters in the state will decide on Nov. 3.

In the meantime, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee continues to "stay very positive by focusing on consumer choice and vehicle repair and the small businesses that people depend on to fix their cars," Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs for the Auto Care Association, told MTD.

"And so far, we feel that our message has resonated with voters," according to Lowe, despite a well-financed, oppositional ad campaign designed to "scare" them, he says.

"We have to be cognizant of the fact that (vehicle) manufacturers are spending (millions) to defeat this measure. We're doing TV ads. We're doing grassroots social media. But we're being outspent by a big margin. This is sort of a David versus Goliath battle.

"However, a lot of companies in our industry are really pulling together to support" Massachusetts Right to Repair legislation, which will be listed on state ballots as "Question 1."

"We have 1,600 repair shops that are really supporting this effort. Tire dealers have been very supportive. The New England Tire & Service Association is strongly supporting this issue. This is probably the most controversial issue on the Massachusetts ballot right now. All eyes really are on Massachusetts. 

"Hopefully, we will win," says Lowe, which could clear the deck for the introduction of national legislation. ""We are continuing to educate members of Congress on the data (access) issue."

Earlier this summer, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee turned in 24,000 signatures, well above the threshold required to place the issue on the state's ballot in November.

The committee scored another win when a coalition representing vehicle manufacturers withdrew a complaint that vehicle data access advocates believe was intended to prevent voters from weighing in on the issue.

At the time, Tommy Hickey, director of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, said "the withdrawal of the car manufacturers’ challenge means we have been cleared to officially be on the November ballot. We have thousands of consumers and independent shops alike who have fought for an open repair market now and into the future, and now the people of Massachusetts can once again vote on this issue.

"The ballot initiative will update the Right to Repair law to cover technological advancements” that were not covered in past Right to Repair legislation “so that consumers can now and tomorrow choose where to get their car repaired and allow for independent repair shops to work in a competitive and robust market.”

 

 

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