Right to repair up to Massachusetts voters

Dec. 27, 2011

At the very least, Massachusetts residents will be able to decide for themselves whether or not "Right to Repair" legislation should become law.

Unless the state legislature approves the Right to Repair Act ahead of time, the issue will be added to the ballot next November. (The Massachusetts legislature is expected to hold a committee hearing on the ballot petition in February, and has until May 1 to  preclude the need for a ballot measure by enacting the act.)

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition recently 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, more than enough to get the issue on the ballot; 68,000 confirmed signatures are required.

“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, CEO and president of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). “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, for the first time, give independent repair shops access to all non-proprietary repair information required to repair vehicles -- information that currently is available only to new car dealerships. The proposed law would require that car companies provide independent shops with affordable, just-in-time access to their diagnostic software through a standardized vehicle interface utilizing a generic lap top.

The result if the Right to Repair Act passes? A level playing field between franchised car dealerships and independent, neighborhood repair facilities, according to the AAIA.

“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 (CARE).

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. For more information about the Right to Repair Act, visit www.righttorepair.org and www.massrighttorepair.com.