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Consumer Advocates, Farmers, Small Business and Hospitals Line Up Behind Bill to Make it Easier to Fix Modern Devices
SPRINGFIELD -- Today, the Illinois House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, & IT Committee heard testimony concerning Right to Repair, House Bill 2026 (Mussman). The bill would require manufacturers to provide access to parts, tools, repair software and repair manuals for electronic devices sold in the state, and is one of many such bills around the country.
"When we can't fix our electronics, we have to buy new things, which is expensive and wasteful. Illinois gets rid of some 15,000 cell phones every day," said Abe Scarr, State Director of Illinois PIRG. "Manufacturers are blocking our ability to fix things, and Right to Repair is the solution. I like to think of this as the 'Just let us fix our stuff act.' "
"People have always fixed things, but modern devices are getting harder and harder to fix, and that's by design," commented bill sponsor Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg. "The idea of Right to Repair is a part of a national conversation about consumer rights when it comes to their electronics. How can we maintain the ability of the consumer to keep their own product going, and how do manufacturers' rights intersect with that? That might seem tricky, but the under-lying premise is simple: Repair is good for consumers and the environment, and it needs to be protected."
The bill faces opposition from manufacturers and manufacturer associations, who argue against giving consumers or third parties access to necessary parts and service information as potentially dangerous. John Deere has been a vocal opponent nationwide.
"Tinkering with one's belongings has always been a rich source of creative new ideas in America, as my grandfather and famed John Deere inventor Theo Brown aptly demonstrated," said Willie Cade of Chicago, retired computer refurbisher and a board member of Repair.org, a coalition advocating Right to Repair. "We need to stand up for American's right to control their toasters, tractors, cell phones and computers."
Farmer Steve Hosselton also testified in support. In addition to being important to farmers, this bill is seen as critical to many small, independent repair shops.
"My wife and I own Normal Gadgets (Bloomington) for the last 7 years. In that time we have repaired over 60,000 smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, iPods and laptops," said local small business-owner Terry Ballantini. "We've even fixed cash registers, key fobs, stereos and water damage devices for people here in Illinois, for businesses and for school corporations. In fact we've repaired devices for Illinois House and Senate Representatives. But it's getting harder and harder. Manufacturers are elbowing repair out, blocking access to the basic things we need to fix things. Right to Repair is increasingly important for the survival of businesses like mine and our 8 employees -- if we want people fixing things, especially where I live far outside of the city, we need to pass this bill."
Steve Vanderzee, System Vice President for Healthcare Technology Management at Advocate Aurora Helath also testified to how monopolized repair for their equipment drives up medical bills.
The Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Hospital Association filed witness slips in support.
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