BOSTON (July 20, 2010) — Fighting down to a July 31 deadline, supporters and opponents of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act are barraging members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to urge them to vote their way on the bill.
The Massachusetts version of Right to Repair passed the state Senate July 6 by unanimous voice vote and now awaits action in the House. If passed, the legislation would mandate penalties against auto makers that don't make available to independent auto repairers and do-it-yourselfers the same repair and diagnostic information they give their franchised dealers.
“We have a massive grassroots effort of phone calls and letters, and motorists are joining garage owners in supporting the bill,” said Sandy Bass-Cors, executive director of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), an organization that advocates Right to Repair. “We also have a massive grassroots media effort—radio, print, everything we can. There have even been some radio debates.”
For its part, the Automotive Service Association (ASA), which has led opposition to Right to Repair, is beating the drum for its Massachusetts members to contact their state legislators to urge them to vote against the bill.
The ASA believes the voluntary information agreement it negotiated with auto makers in 2002 is more than adequate to ensure the availability of repair and diagnostic information to independent garages, and that the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), the organization created by the agreement, is an effective oversight group for ensuring the flow of repair information.
“Ultimately this legislation would promote, without a compelling governmental rationale, more government bureaucracy, more regulation and more litigation,” the ASA said in a July 19 press release.
Ms. Bass-Cors said CARE believes the ASA-auto maker agreement and NASTF are inadequate to ensure repair information availability. “It's like telling people not to steal, but having no penalty for stealing,” she said.
Stan Morin, chairman of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, said he was confident of victory in the legislature.
“This is Custer's last stand for ASA and their side,” Mr. Morin said. “Success is just a vote away.”
Leading the opposition with the ASA in Massachusetts to Right to Repair are the New England Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (NESSARA), and a state legislator, Rep. Martin J. Walsh (D-13th Suffolk). Both NESSARA and Rep. Walsh initially supported Right to Repair, but later turned against the bill.
Besides CARE and the Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, supporters of the Massachusetts Right to Repair bill include the New England Tire & Service Association (NETSA), the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).