Lawmakers in Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina recently introduced Right to Repair legislation—bringing the total number of states considering repair-friendly laws this year up to 11. That’s pretty impressive for an issue that rose to prominence almost exclusively through the grassroots efforts of netizens and tinkerers.
Right to Repair laws would require manufacturers to provide owners and independent repair shops with access to repair information, diagnostic tools, and affordable replacement parts. In Kansas and Wyoming, the laws focus exclusively on agricultural equipment, like tractors—which have become increasingly difficult for farmers to repair on their own. The bills in other states apply more broadly to digital equipment, like electronics, appliances, and farm equipment. (Basically anything with a computer in it.)
If passed, Right to Repair laws would make it easier for owners to fix broken equipment—either on their own or at a repair shop of their choice. And advocates, like us, hope these laws will also ease the growing e-waste problem.
Of course, these bills are not without controversy. Companies like Apple and John Deere aren’t exactly fans of Right to Repair, and they’ve tried hard to snuff these bills out before they become law. At a recent committee hearing for Nebraska’s Right to Repair bill, dozens of Big Tech lobbyists trotted out a parade of horrible consequences should the state emboldened its citizens to repair their own e-stuff. Even though Americans have been repairing their own regular stuff since stuff was invented. Still, tech lobbyists managed to kill the bills in Nebraska and in Minnesota.
Not all is lost, though. “Lawmakers in Tennessee have decided to defer consideration of its bill until 2018,” reports Motherboard’s Jason Koebler. And Right to Repair is still alive in New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, Wyoming, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Iowa.
Right to Repair bills will need a lot support from the public if they have any shot of becoming a law. So if you think you should have the right to repair your stuff, reach out your state lawmakers and tell them so. Repair.org—a pro-repair advocacy group—makes it really easy to write or call your legislators here: repair.org/stand-up/