Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Right to Repair legislation into law, ensuring that the commonwealth’s citizens will have access to a competitive vehicle repair market, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).
"The signing by the governor represents a major victory for Massachusetts car owners, who took the major step last year in voting for the nation’s first Right to Repair law," said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. "AAIA and our partner, the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), will now devote our full attention to completing work on a memorandum of understanding with the vehicle manufacturers that is intended to ensure that motorists across the nation can enjoy the same market benefits that Massachusetts car owners now enjoy."
The newly-signed legislation was needed in order to reconcile two laws that were on the books in Massachusetts that mandate that car companies provide affordable access to all tools, software and information used to repair late model computer-controlled vehicles. The first law was the result of an agreement reached between the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition and the vehicle manufacturers that was passed unanimously by the state legislature in late July. The bill was approved by the legislature too late to remove a ballot measure that had been sponsored by the coalition. That ballot measure was approved in November 2012 by an overwhelming 85 to 15 percent margin, thus ensuring that there were two Right to Repair laws on the books in Massachusetts.
The recently-signed bill is similar to the bill which passed the legislature in 2012, but includes provisions that require that information and tools be available for heavy duty vehicles, those over 14,000 pounds. The ballot measure included these vehicles, but they had been deleted from the bill that passed the legislature. Through efforts of a coalition of aftermarket heavy duty service providers, the state senate adopted an amendment that restored heavy duty vehicles back into the bill.
While the ballot measure and the law enacted by the legislature are very similar, there are some differences. These include the fact that the legislature-passed bill would require car companies to provide their diagnostic software through a cloud that utilizes a standardized vehicle interface by model year 2018, while the ballot measure would mandate compliance with these provisions by model year 2015. The ballot measure also includes motorcycles and heavy duty trucks, while the legislature had narrowed the focus of the law to only passenger vehicles. The reconciliation bill tracks closely with the law that passed the legislature.