First Colorado, then New York: Right to Repair on a roll

JUNE 30, 2022: Since 2018, PIRG has been campaigning for the Right to Repair — our right to fix the things we own when they break. In the past month, two states have passed the first Right to Repair bills in nearly a decade.

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An update from Faye Park, president of PIRG

JUNE 30, 2022

Since 2018, PIRG has been campaigning for the Right to Repair — our right to fix the things we own when they break. It’s how humans have lived for practically as long as we’ve used tools. But as our devices and appliances and machines increasingly rely on software, manufacturers can lock us out and drive up repair costs, or push us into buying new products faster than necessary.

Lack of repair options affects all kinds of consumers, whether they’re dealing with a cracked smartphone screen or a broken-down combine on the farm. One group in particular that has faced unnecessary repair hurdles is wheelchair users, who can end up stranded for weeks or months when their wheelchairs need repair.

I am pleased to report that, this month, my home state of Colorado became the first in the nation to establish a Right to Repair law for wheelchairs. It was also the first new Right to Repair law established in nearly a decade. Gov. Polis signed HB22-1031, Consumer Right To Repair Powered Wheelchairs, on June 2, creating a new law that requires manufacturers of powered wheelchairs to make available parts, tools, repair manuals and digital access to owners and independent repairers at fair and reasonable prices.

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State Rep. David Ortiz and PIRG Director Faye Park before the wheelchair Right to Repair bill signing ceremony. Credit: Staff

My colleagues at CoPIRG worked with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition to spearhead the effort to win this new law, along with state Reps. Brianna Titone and David Ortiz, and state Sens. Rachel Zenzinger and John Cooke.

CoPIRG and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition gathered more than 20 stories from wheelchair users and their family members who had faced repair challenges. One respondent’s story brings home the grim side effects of long repair delays: “I had to make the choice to either be bedbound or to use a chair that lacked the basic trunk support and hip alignment to keep my skin healthy. I ended up with a sore that required surgery and kept me down an additional month.”

On the heels of this progress in Colorado, PIRG’s Right to Repair team has already released a new survey of 141 wheelchair users nationwide, showing why more states should follow Colorado’s lead.

But the good news doesn’t end there. Just one day after Gov. Polis signed Colorado’s new law, the New York State Assembly voted overwhelmingly to send a watershed Right to Repair bill to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

When the governor signs it, the bill will become the nation’s first law that expands repair access for cell phones and tablets — an important step toward a healthier environment and a less wasteful world as well as a big win for New York consumers.

Congratulations to our friends at CoPIRG, NYPIRG, iFixit and and our other repair, consumer and environmental advocacy allies for these latest victories.

Now it’s back to work to win basic repair access for consumers everywhere, a healthier planet and a better quality of life.

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