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California Senate passes ‘Right to Repair Act’

The California state Senate passed Sen. Susan Eggman’s (Stockton) Right to Repair Act (SB 244) on Tuesday with a 38-0, bipartisan vote. It’s the furthest a Right to Repair bill has advanced in the state. The bill would significantly expand consumers’ and independent repair shops’ access to the necessary parts, tools and service information required for repairing consumer electronics and appliances.

“This is a huge victory for anyone who’s ever been faced with limited options when their phone, fridge or other household electronics break down,” said CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom. “It’s due time that California fixed its laws so that we can fix our stuff. For the hundreds of advocates and repair businesses and the untold number of consumers supporting Right to Repair, we’re one huge step closer to making that happen.”

Advocates have been pushing for Right to Repair legislation in California for 5 years. Similar bills have died in the Senate Appropriations Committee the past two years after intense industry lobbying efforts against their passage. But public support for the Right to Repair in the state has grown amid a swell of national momentum. New York, Colorado and Minnesota have all passed their own Right to Repair laws in the past year.

“Advancing SB 244, the Right to Repair Act, off the Senate floor is an important milestone and a real testament to the energy and activism behind this movement,” said Sen. Susan Eggman, the lead author of the bill. “Enshrining access to repair in California law will help small businesses, consumers and our environment, and I’m hopeful that we can deliver that this year.”

The Right to Repair Act has big impacts for both consumers and the planet. The bill would bring more competition and consumer choice to the repair marketplace, saving Californians households roughly $5 billion per year. Keeping electronics in use longer is also expected to reduce the amount of electronic waste sent to California landfills and reduce the need for additional mining and production to replace, rather than repair, devices. Californians currently throw away 46,000 cell phones a day and 772,000 tons of electronic waste — which often contains toxic heavy metals — per year.

“It’s great to see the California Senate stand-up for consumers and the environment over the opposition of some of the state’s largest businesses,” said Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy for Californians Against Waste. “Senator Eggman’s persistent advocacy and the dedicated efforts of activists will allow California to finally lead the way on creating a Right to Repair.”

The Right to Repair Act is backed by 82 independent repair shops, 109 local elected officials, more than 50 environmental and consumer groups, and various other recyclers, school boards and law professors.

“California just took a huge step toward getting us all the right to repair everything we own. We’ve made it through Big Tech’s backyard, and now we’re knocking on the front door,” said Elizabeth Chamberlain, Director of Sustainability for iFixit. “So, Silicon Valley: Will you support small repair businesses, fight electronic waste, and ditch the throwaway economy once and for all?”

In total, 28 states have considered or are considering similar legislation in 2023. Passing SB 244 in California, the home of Silicon Valley, will likely further energize the Right to Repair movement nationwide.

“There is a growing movement for the Right to Repair spreading across the country, and we’ll keep working to get California to be the next state to act,” said Engstrom. “It’s common sense: the Right to Repair is an idea whose time has come.”

The bill now heads to the State Assembly for further deliberation.”

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