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Radio News: Hochul won't say if she'll sign right-to-repair law

Dec 19, 2022 11:40 pm

Kevin Purdy reports at ARS Technica that the folks who cheered months ago when New York's legislature passed The Digital Fair Repair Act, the first right-to-repair bill to entirely pass through any state legislature are now waiting nervously. The nation's largest technology interests are lobbying for New York Governor Kathy Hochul not to sign the bill. And, so far, Hochul has held the bill aside until Dec. 16, when a thirty-day clock began ticking, and if the governor takes no action by then the bill fails to become law. For several months her press flacks will only say, "Governor Hochul is reviewing the legislation." Very few people anywhere are against the bill, which allows consumers to fix products they pay for. Advocates for the measure say many companies do not provide documentation or spare parts, or lock access behind software restrictions that thwart repairs outside companies' networks, limit consumer choice, raise ownership costs, and add to a growing e-waste stream. The Digital Fair Repair Act passed the state assembly 147–2 and the senate 59–4. Yet, despite all that popularity and bipartisan support, if Hochul sways to the lobbying interests of a handful of corporations, the bill fails and would have to start again from the beginning of the legislative process next term. Aggressive lobbying worked earlier in the process, as trade groups forced a slimmer version of the bill, taking out lawn equipment, gaming consoles, and appliances through a "burst of end-of-session lobbying from companies worth billions and their affiliated trade associations." The bill on Hochul's desk will now only apply to small electronics, according to the Times Union. But since the bill would be the first in the nation signed into law it would set a precedent for other states. Both ARS Technica and the Times Union report that state filings show that the trade group TechNet, and corporations Microsoft, Apple, Google, and HP, are all lobbying against the bill at the legislative and executive levels in New York. Read more about this story at ARS Technica.

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