NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Washingtonians overwhelmingly favor right to repair bill for electronics, NPI poll finds

Leg­is­la­tion that would help Wash­ing­to­ni­ans get their bro­ken or dam­aged elec­tron­ics repaired is over­whelm­ing­ly pop­u­lar and ought to be act­ed on dur­ing the 2022 ses­sion, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute advised mem­bers of the House Com­mit­tee on Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion & Busi­ness this morning.

69% of like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers sur­veyed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI about two months ago backed a bill intro­duced by Mia Gregerson (House Bill 1810) that aims to pro­mote “the fair ser­vic­ing and repair of dig­i­tal elec­tron­ic prod­ucts in a safe, secure, reli­able, and sus­tain­able manner.”

A mere 13% were opposed, while 18% said they were not sure.

As sum­ma­rized by non­par­ti­san com­mit­tee staff in their bill analy­sis, HB 1810 would com­bat elec­tron­ic waste and planned obso­les­cence by requir­ing OEMs (orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers) to “make doc­u­men­ta­tion, parts, and tools avail­able to own­ers and inde­pen­dent repair providers on fair and rea­son­able terms, or pro­vide a train­ing pro­gram and allow any licensed Wash­ing­ton busi­ness to obtain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a man­u­fac­tur­er cer­ti­fied repair facility.”

Auto­mo­biles and med­ical devices would be exempt from the new require­ments of HB 1810, and OEMs would not be required to divulge trade secrets. OEMs are also not liable for repairs per­formed by inde­pen­dent repair providers. Enforce­ment of the law would be han­dled sole­ly by the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s office.

HB 1810 is a more pol­ished ver­sion of a sim­i­lar bill that was intro­duced last ses­sion but did not advance through the leg­isla­tive process for a floor vote. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson has worked tire­less­ly over the inter­im to tweak the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion and grow sup­port for it. Gregerson men­tioned at today’s hear­ing that Microsoft is now neu­tral on the bill, instead of being opposed.

Pro­po­nents of the bill include Wash­PIRG, Red Queen Dynam­ics, Zero Waste Wash­ing­ton, FiX­CO, Inter­Con­nec­tion, iFix­it, the Nation­al Fed­er­a­tion of Inde­pen­dent Busi­ness, and Share The Cities Action Fund, in addi­tion to NPI.

Here is the full ques­tion that we asked and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture is con­sid­er­ing a “right to repair” bill that would require man­u­fac­tur­ers of dig­i­tal elec­tron­ics such as smart­phones and lap­top com­put­ers to pro­vide diag­nos­tic and repair infor­ma­tion about their prod­ucts to indi­vid­u­als and inde­pen­dent repair busi­ness­es. Man­u­fac­tur­ers would also be oblig­at­ed to pro­vide equip­ment or ser­vice parts for pur­chase on fair and rea­son­able terms but would not be required to sell equip­ment or parts that are no longer avail­able. Motor vehi­cles and med­ical devices would be exempt from the new require­ments. Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose or strong­ly oppose enact­ing a “right to repair” bill in Wash­ing­ton State?

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 69% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 39%
    • Some­what sup­port: 30%
  • Oppose: 13%
    • Some­what oppose: 9%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 4%
  • Not Sure: 18%

Three times as many Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are strong­ly sup­port as opposed in total, and over­all sup­port is extreme­ly high, with about sev­en in ten like­ly vot­ers favor­ing the bill. Those are real­ly great numbers.

As I told the com­mit­tee: When sup­port is this high — in the high six­ties, sev­en­ties, or above —  it’s evi­dence that the idea we’re research­ing enjoys robust and broad sup­port across many dif­fer­ent groups of voters.

We do live in polar­ized times, but right to repair is some­thing that most Wash­ing­to­ni­ans can enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly get behind.

Our sur­vey of 909 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Novem­ber 10th through Thurs­day, Novem­ber 11th, 2021.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

HB 1810 has already been sched­uled for exec­u­tive ses­sion next week by Chair Steve Kir­by, which is a very encour­ag­ing sign. If the bill is report­ed out with a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion, it will head to House Rules. If lead­er­ship signs off, the bill will be pulled to the floor for a vote at some point for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion and sent over to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate. Should the Sen­ate also act on the bill, HB 1810 could end up on Gov­er­nor Inslee’s desk by the end of winter.

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