Daily Archives: February 1, 2021

A Case Study in Arguing Against Your Own Interests

“Right to Repair” ought to be a simple, straightforward concept. But when it gets inside the legislative process, all sorts of complications arise.

The background: Large manufacturers want to keep taking your money long after you’ve purchased their product. They do this by severely limiting access to parts and manuals, and by voiding warranties if you try to fix it yourself or take it to an unauthorized repair shop. So you’re locked in to the manufacturer for service and parts, which is always more expensive than DIY or your local technician.

In response, some states have adopted Right to Repair legislation, which requires manufacturers to lower those barriers. The concept is, if you buy something you own it (incredible notion, that) and you have a right to take it outside the manufacturer’s ecosystem.

A Right to Repair bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Pearson in 2018. It got derailed, thanks mainly to a blizzard of testimony from high-priced suits representing the manufacturers. The Legislature passed a stripped-down version calling for, you guessed it, a study committee. That panel did its business in 2019, and produced a mealy-mouthed report that didn’t come to any firm conclusions.

Which brings us to now.

Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, D-Brattleboro, has introduced H.58, a Right to Repair bill specifically aimed at farm equipment. It got an initial hearing last Wednesday before the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee. That hearing was yet another case study in why this common-sense legislation gets all tangled up in outlandish worst-case scenarios and a curious solicitousness for the interests of big business.

The gory details… after the jump.

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