California’s right to repair bill quietly dropped in committee

A California Right to Repair bill, SB 983, died in committee last week, despite broad consumer support for repairable products.

It’s unclear who killed the bill, but right-to-repair advocates point to the usual suspects — tech companies that benefit by controlling who can fix their property and who have lobbied against right-to-repair bills. repair anywhere in the United States.

“This happened in the darkest and most inexplicable part of the process, so it’s hard to know exactly what happened,” said Nathan Proctor, of the States Public Interest Research Groups. -United (PIRG) Senior Director of the Right to Repair Campaign, in a message to The register.

Proctor said it could be that vested interests have gotten to political leaders, but also admitted that those rejecting the bill simply don’t see it as a priority right now.

SB-983 has been presented in February by California State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D). Among other provisions, it required product manufacturers to provide, on fair and reasonable terms, the documentation, tools, software and parts needed to diagnose, maintain and repair the products. These should be provided to both product owners and repair shops.

The right to repair is very popular among people, according to CALPIRG. He is supported by 77% of Democrats, 61% of Republicans and 82% of independents, and is opposed by only 5% of the 212 respondents polled.

Since the tabling of the first such bill in 2014, 34 states have begun to develop right to repair legislation, according to The Repair Association. And the FTC in a report last year said he supported expanding consumer repair options, in the same way the White House.

Some progress appears to have been made recently. Apple, a long-time enemy of repairability, has made much of its program self-repairing. However, recent Comments argue that the initiative is designed to give the impression that Apple supports the right to repair while discouraging repairs by making the process somewhat onerous.

Senator Eggman’s bill walked out of committee in April with an 8-1-2 vote. The legislation is backed by repair shops, consumer groups and environmental organizations opposed to hard-to-repair products and the waste that arises from current practices.

Still five Democrats and two Republicans in the California Senate Appropriations Committee, all voted to suspend the bill.

“I am incredibly disappointed that SB 983 was held in committee. After extensive review, the FTC found ‘little evidence’ to support the manufacturers’ claims regarding potential harms from the right to repair movement, but this does not ‘didn’t stop their business organizations from making the same tired arguments in committee,’ California Sen. Eggman said. The register.

“Organizing around my bill and other efforts across the country have made it clear that these arguments don’t hold water with consumers who are struggling with costly repairs and premature replacements.”

“We don’t know who stopped him,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, in a phone interview with The register, noting that a similar right to repair medical bill suffered the same fate last year. “It’s the same list of suspects.”

Gordon-Byrne assumes California lawmakers are worried about the cost of implementing the bill, in the form of lawsuits from product manufacturers. “I think people have been threatened with lawsuits,” she said. “There are far more concerns about law enforcement and litigation than the content of the bill.”

The appropriations committee, she suggested, is concerned that the state will have to set aside substantial funds to enforce the right to repair and defend against lawsuits brought by companies challenging the rules.

Throughout the process, we encountered significant opposition from the tech industry

Sander Kushen, state advocate for CALPIRG, blamed tech industry lobbying. “Throughout the process, we encountered significant opposition from the tech industry,” Kushen said.

‘This included TechNet and the industry association that represents Apple, among others. Even though almost every tech industry talking point against the right to repair has been rebutted in the last year’Deny fix‘ FTC report, they still managed to kill the bill through a massive lobbying effort.”

“It was definitely disappointing, especially given the well-documented bipartisan support for right-to-repair reforms among the public,” Kushen continued. “This was the furthest a consumer electronics right to repair bill has reached the legislative process in California, so hopefully our momentum, this public support and our grand coalition of environmental and repair shop allies will lead us to victory soon!”

TechNet did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ®

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