By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Two recent news items of industry note posted for your consideration. One’s national, the other is state specific but with possible national implications. First, to Massachusetts…
Supporters of “Right to Repair” legislation have secured enough signatures on a petition to possibly get the matter on a public ballot next year. R2R has had a rocky history, and has failed to gain approval on either a national level or in any state. The bill seeks to compel vehicle OEMs to make available to any repair shop any information regularly available to a dealership.
Supporters say it’s a necessary step in servicing today’s sophisticated computer-controlled vehicles; opponents style it as an attempt to grab proprietary information. One critic in Washington, D.C., once termed it “an answer to a question nobody asked.”
Either way, Massachusetts may become the first state to adopt it. A coalition of industry groups and independent shops have collected the required minimum of 68,911 signatures on a petition to their lawmakers. Once the Secretary of State certifies the petition as valid, the matter goes to the state legislature for one crack at passing it on their own. However, the measure failed to pass during an earlier legislative session.
If it doesn’t pass this time, the petitioners need another 11,500 signatures to bypass the legislature and put the question on the public ballot for November, 2012. Gathering those extra signatures shouldn’t be a problem; backers say they already have a grand total of more than 106,000.
Should it go that far, R2R would be one of several unrelated questions on the ballot. As an example of true democracy in action, a member of the R2R coalition noted that many volunteers who would normally be working on this project are already busy working against some of the other ballot questions.
As you might expect, both the OEMs and many groups in other states are watching this one very closely.
In Washington, D.C. Rep John Campbell of California recently introduced a bill to warm a motorhead’s heart. His proposal, H.R. 3274, would require NHTSA and the EPA to “establish a regulatory structure to facilitate production” of low-volume cars from specialty manufacturers.
He notes that existing rules require the specialty car makers to operate the same as OEMs turning out millions of vehicles a year. Under his proposal, companies making fewer than 1000 cars per year could be excused from certain requirements, although products would still have to be safe and meet emissions standards.
Supporters say that since most of these specialty vehicles are only used for shows, parades, and occasional transportation, there will be little overall effect and costs can be reduced. Although an emission-compliant engine is still required, in many other cases, a replica car would only have to meet U.S rules for the year of the original for such things as lighting, switch positions, etc. The proposal has picked up support from other representatives and is now in committee for further study.
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When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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