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?
- 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.
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.