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Battle Over Right to Repair Moves from States to Federal Level

by Sara Smith | Jul 08, 2021
In recent years, so-called “right to repair” legislation has proliferated across the country. AED, working with OEM’s and other dealer organizations, has successfully prevented these proposals from passing in state legislatures. However, now the issue is gaining traction at the federal level as the Biden administration and lawmakers in Congress seek to address the issue through misguided proposals in Washington.
 What is Right to Repair?
 
Right to repair policies require manufacturers to give consumers and the broader public access to diagnostic tools, parts and information needed to modify and fix just about any product utilizing software. Aimed initially at consumer products, such as cell phones and computers, the language is significantly broad that it would permit unfettered access to the software that governs safety, security and emissions technology on heavy equipment. In fact, right to repair advocates have explicitly stated they want to give farmers the ability to repair and modify equipment.
 
AED opposes the right to repair proposals as they would risk equipment’s safety, durability, and environmental compliance and pose significant liability issues for equipment dealers. Furthermore, there are significant intellectual property ramifications.
 
Federal Right to Repair
 
Right to repair legislation has been introduced in more than 25 states in recent years. Now, the issue has reached the federal level.
 
In a forthcoming executive order aimed at promoting competition, President Biden is expected to call on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue right to repair rules. Currently, there are more questions than answers since the pending executive order text is not yet available. It’s also unclear whether the FTC even has the legal authority to issue regulations addressing the right to repair. Nonetheless, any proposed regulation will have to go through the rulemaking process, which requires public comment and input from all stakeholders.
 
Additionally, Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.) recently introduced legislation to mandate the right to repair nationally. H.R. 4006, which currently has one co-sponsor, is not expected to move through the legislative process in the near future.
 
What is AED Doing?
 
At the federal level, AED is working with other trade associations and OEMs to oppose the right to repair efforts. Upon receiving text of the executive order, AED will ensure the industry’s voice is heard during an expected regulatory process. Additionally, the association will continue educating lawmakers about the detrimental impacts of H.R. 4006 on the equipment industry. Finally, AED remains engaged to oppose legislative initiatives at the state level.
 
Stay tuned to AED for updates on right to repair and other policy issues.
 
For more information, please contact Daniel B. Fisher, AED's Vice President of Government Affairs, at dfisher@aednet.org.

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