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Op-eds rail against ‘right to repair’ legislation as ACA begins new support campaign

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Maine Reps. Tiffany Roberts (D-District 149) and Amanda Collamore (R-District 68) published an op-ed on Roberts’ website and in the Portland Press Herald that says the state’s “right to repair” legislation should be reevaluated while also honoring voter approval. They called the Maine Right to Repair Committee’s ballot proposal “misguided and problematic.”

As co-chair of the state’s Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, Roberts has said before that R2R legislation is unnecessary, in an October op-ed and during a February committee meeting. In February, the committee voted 7-1 to recommend that the legislature eliminate the requirement for a standardized repair information platform in the new law. Collamore brought the amendment that the committee approved.

A public hearing is scheduled for May 23.

Roberts and Collamore cleared up some possible misconceptions in their op-ed last week.

“The Maine Right to Repair Committee drafted its ballot language with the help of a national auto parts special interest group and then went directly to the ballot to intentionally avoid the tough questions that would come with a legislative review. Not benefiting from critical scrutiny, the language put forward was poorly drafted and did not consider alternate points of view. This manipulation of the system was done knowing full well that voters would support the idea of ‘Right to Repair’ without being in a position to evaluate the rest of the ballot text.

“Despite the façade of being a locally grown ballot initiative designed to help independent repairers, this ballot question did not enjoy the financial support of Maine voters.”

The legislators also noted concerns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that were provided in a letter to automakers last June.

“While NHTSA has stressed that it is important for consumers to continue to have the ability to choose where to have their vehicles serviced and repaired, consumers must be afforded choice in a manner that does not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety,” the letter states.

Roberts and Collamore noted as well that R2R legislation is unnecessary because automakers already provide necessary repair information, tools, and equipment as evidenced by an agreement between the Alliance for Automotive Innovation which represents nearly all automakers, ASA, and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

“Unless the identified problems around telematics data access in the ballot question are addressed, automakers will have no pathway to comply with the law while still fulfilling their federal obligations on cybersecurity,” the legislators wrote. “This tension has led some automakers to shut off all telematics data access on their vehicles in Massachusetts, which NHTSA has said could have ‘…its own adverse impacts on safety.’ Maine voters should not be penalized because the Maine Right to Repair Committee opted to advance a misguided and problematic ballot proposal.”

Also last week, the Auto Care Association (ACA) launched a new “right to repair” video campaign that features independent repair shop owners and advocates for Congress to pass federal R2R legislation.

The new ACA campaign includes shop owners telling their stories about “the increased challenges independent repair shops are facing with accessing repair data to service their customers’ vehicles,” an ACA press release says.

The video campaign is in support of the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair Act (REPAIR Act) on behalf of vehicle owners and repair shops. Supporters of the REPAIR Act say it would ensure access to tools and equipment, wireless repair and diagnostic data, and on-board diagnostic and telematics systems that they claim are necessary to repair a vehicle. However, most, if not all of that, is provided by automakers, perhaps not for free, but still accessible.

The REPAIR Act (H.R. 906) advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce in November.

“At a time when car repair prices are rising and wait times are increasing, federal right to repair legislation would provide much-needed relief to independent repair shops and consumers alike,” ACA wrote.

Dwayne Myers, Dynamic Automotive co-owner in Maryland said in one of the videos, “You can’t do the simplest job anymore without being able to get into the computer system… If Congress doesn’t take action on the right to repair, it will only increase what it costs to fix your car. The REPAIR Act has bipartisan support because it really ties back to the American dream. It puts everyone on a fair playing field.”

In another video, Kathleen Callahan, Xpertech Auto Repair owner in Florida, said, “The impact to the consumer is that they have less choice and pay more for repairs that take two, three, or four times longer. Access is really important because we don’t have dealer services local… I support the REPAIR Act because I want to protect my legacy, my customer’s choice, and the independent aftermarket that I am so proud to be a part of.”

Callahan and ACA testified in September before the Innovation, Data & Commerce Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.

ACA shared in its news release announcing the new video campaign that, “America’s vibrant network of local, independent repair shops plays a critical role in ensuring car and commercial truck owners have options when it comes to repairing their vehicles.”

According to ACA:

    • “In the United States, independent repair shops perform more than 70% of all after-warranty vehicle repairs;
    • “Consumers prefer using independent repair shops over dealerships by 2 to 1;
    • “Consumers spend roughly 36% more on car repairs at dealerships than they do at independent repair shops; and
    • “Taking away the independent repair option would cost consumers an estimated $100 billion.”

Bill Hanvey, ACA president and CEO, added, “Swift action on the REPAIR Act is needed to protect the 273,000 shops and 900,000 technicians that service the nearly 300 million vehicles on the road in the United States,” said. “We look forward to working with the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce to advance the REPAIR Act and, ultimately, see this legislation enacted into law.”

More information about ACA’s campaign can be found at and on its national right to repair webpage.

In an op-ed published by The Hill, Robert O’Brien, U.S. national security advisor under President Donald Trump from 2019-2021, explained how he believes giving the access the REPAIR Act seeks could impact national security.

“Let’s consider the true impact of granting what is known in software as read/write access to vehicle data and telematics to anyone who wants it, in real-time,” he wrote. “That is akin to requiring companies to hand over administrator rights to a computer network.

“What could go wrong? Imagine a scenario where every car on the interstate suddenly malfunctions — the brakes stop working, steering is unresponsive and the driver no longer controls the acceleration or direction of the car. Panic ensues, essential services are crippled and every modern car in America is turned into a weapon to be used against its people.”

O’Brien added that other countries, such as China, “could take advantage of the broad access provided by proposed legislation to closely study U.S. technologies and develop countermeasures or even offensive capabilities.”

“Proponents of the right to repair may argue that individuals and non-dealer repair shops require this broad access to ensure competition and consumer rights. However, this perspective overlooks the reality that most necessary repair information and tools are already available to these entities. As currently written, bills like the REPAIR Act could even eliminate design patents, creating a secondary aftermarket rife with low-quality parts built in China and sold in the U.S., further benefiting a geopolitical adversary and endangering the American public.

“America’s geopolitical rivals are not bound by the principles of fair play or mutual respect for privacy and intellectual property. Instead, they operate in a domain where information is power, and power is the goal. By granting them access, even inadvertently, to proprietary technology, America is risking its ability to compete, together with the very safety and security of the nation.”


Featured image credit: Mikhail Makarov/iStock

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