A group of 28 state and territorial attorneys general recently sent a joint letter to members of Congress asking them to “redouble” their efforts on passing right-to-repair legislation for “automobiles, agricultural equipment, and digital electronic equipment.”
Right-to-repair policy for consumer electronic equipment is of particular relevance for the recycling industry. Certain trade groups and companies have previously supported the concept as a way to enable greater recycling and reuse of devices, some of which can also present fire hazards in waste facilities due to their batteries.
The March 24 letter was addressed to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); all of whom are the chairs or ranking members on relevant committees.
The attorneys general specifically touted three bills introduced in the last session of Congress: the Fair Repair Act, the Saving Money on Auto Repair Transportation (SMART) Act and the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act. The REPAIR Act was also reintroduced in February.
The attorneys general described the concept as a bipartisan issue that can reduce consumer costs amid inflation, noting how equipment manufacturers “often control access to these electronics parts, creating unfair restraint of trade and a monopoly on repair.”
The letter went on to note that common tactics “include using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of parts and tools, or making diagnostic software unavailable.” It also pointed to prior support for this concept from the Federal Trade Commission and Biden administration.
The letter was signed by officials from Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
At the state level, New York became the first to pass a repair law focused on electronics in December. Nathan Proctor, senior campaign director for this issue at PIRG, said in a statement that “this incredible, bipartisan display of support shows, people from all across America support making it the law of the land.”
PIRG is currently tracking more than two dozen state bills around the country. Key votes are coming up for bills pertaining to consumer devices in Oregon and Washington, as well as farm equipment in Colorado.