Right to Repair measure likely to reach Mass. ballot
A ballot proposal that would require automakers to provide tooling and computer codes to independent repair shops for the same prices as franchised dealers' service operations likely has gathered enough signatures to appear on the November ballot in Massachusetts.
Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Right to Repair Coalition, said his organization on Monday turned in about 16,000 signatures supporting the proposal to the secretary of the commonwealth, roughly 4,500 more than required.
A spokesman for the secretary of the commonwealth confirmed that the signatures were turned in. He said officials are counting valid signatures, and it is "likely" that the proposal will make the November ballot.
If approved by voters, the proposal would take effect in 2015, a year earlier than a proposed measure the Massachusetts Legislature is considering.
Once the proposal is on the ballot, voters would have their say even if state lawmakers pass legislation.
Automakers also took action on the issue Monday, filing with the state's Office of Campaign and Political Finance to register the Citizens Committee for Safe and Fair Repair. The state's campaign finance law requires groups to register in order to raise money to support or oppose ballot proposals, candidates or political parties.
The committee is made up of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 12 automakers including Toyota, Volkswagen and the Detroit 3; and Global Automakers, which represents Toyota, Honda, Nissan and 11 other import-brand automakers. In the coming weeks, the committee is expected to add the National Automobile Dealers Association and other groups, a spokesman said.
Dan Gage, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said his organization was forced to begin the campaign after the Right to Repair Coalition refused to negotiate fairly.
"They decided to force this to the ballot," Gage said. "They're the ones who had the ability to continue to try and compromise and find a negotiated settlement that works for everyone. They chose a different route, and so, because of that, our decision was very easy that we had to go forward and fight a very strong argument and campaign."
Gage said the two parties met 15 times, with the Alliance making a "litany" of concessions. He said the Alliance never closed its door to negotiations.
Kinsman said the Alliance was unwilling to make sufficient concessions on a bill.
"I think if they were really willing to negotiate, we would have had a bill done by the Legislature," he said.
Gage stressed that Massachusetts voters aren't the only ones who should be concerned about the issue.
"People have to understand this is a national fight," he said. "This is playing out in Massachusetts, but whatever happens in Massachusetts is going to have an implication on car design and parts design globally."
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