Some in the lighting industry are concerned and closely following both state and federal policy efforts known as Right to Repair. The original motivation is over the right to repair consumer electronic devices and farm equipment. The lighting industry is concerned that proposed state and federal policy proposals might create unintended, burdensome requirements on the lighting industry. Possibly even creating safety and manufacturer liability consequences.
The Right to Repair movement is a broad international effort to secure repair options and prevent repair limitations. Right to Repair laws have three main goals:
- preserving the right to open products,
- increasing the availability of the parts and tools needed, and
- keeping independent repair shops in business.
Right to Repair advocates filed their first legislative action in South Dakota in January 2014 as SB.136 (Latterell). Four states followed in 2015 – New York (S.3998 Boyle/A.6068 Morelle), Minnesota (SF 873 Osmek/ HF 1048 Hertaus), Massachusetts (H.3383 Cronin/S. Kennedy), and Nebraska (LB 1072 Haar). Tennessee (SB888/H1382 Jernigan) and Wyoming (HB 0091 Hunt) were added in 2016. The following year – 2017 – new bills were filed in North Carolina (HB663 Richardson), Kansas (HB2122 Barker), Illinois (HB3030 Harris), Iowa (HF556 and SF2028), Missouri (HB1178 McCreery), New Hampshire (HB1733 Luneau) and New Jersey (A4934 Moriarty). 2018 added Oklahoma, Hawaii, Georgia, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. 2019 added Oregon, Nevada, Indiana and Montana. 2020 added Maine, Idaho, Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Colorado. 2021 added Florida, Delaware, Texas, and South Carolina for a total of 27 states considering legislation, in 2021.
On December 28th, 2022, New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Digital Fair Repair Act (S4104-A/A7006-B) into law, making New York the first state in the nation to guarantee the right to repair, and preventing efforts to limit repair. The law becomes effective July 1st, 2023. However, the bill was meaningfully weakened at the last minute by amendments that give OEMs some convenient exceptions and loopholes to get out of obligations that many Right to Repair advocates had been hoping for.
US FEDERAL ACTIVITY
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report “Nixing the Fix” in May 2021 to Congress, outlining issues around corporations’ policies that limit repairs on consumer goods that it considered in violation of trade laws, and outlined steps that could be done to better enforce this. This included self-regulation by the industries involved, as well as expansion of existing laws such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or new laws to give the FTC better enforcement to protect consumers from overzealous repair restrictions. On July 9, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy”, a sweeping array of initiatives across the executive branch. Among them included instructions to the FTC to craft rules to prevent manufacturers from preventing repairs performed by owners or independent repair shops. About two weeks after the EO was issued, the FTC made a unanimous vote to enforce the right to repair as policy and will look to take action against companies that limit the type of repair work that can be done at independent repair shops.
Right to Repair legislative activity is also occurring in the EU, and some additional countries.
More LightNOW legislative stories can be found here.