New Jersey legislature halts Right to Repair act

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Jan. 14, 2010--The New Jersey legislature has deferred action on the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair act, which the general assembly had passed Oct. 27 by a two-to-one margin.

The act would have curbed steering in the automotive industry, giving New Jersey consumers the right to take their vehicle to a repair facility of their choosing.

Opposition to the legislation focused on the potential impact the act would have on safety, jobs and the economy.

“While this bill sounds innocent enough, it will contribute to the loss of good-paying American manufacturers’ jobs to cheap foreign labor markets,” the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local Union 475, stated in a letter to the senate.

Opponents have urged proponents of the Right to Repair act to redirect their energies and resources to work within the cooperative framework of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), according to the Bedford, Texas-based Automotive Service Association.

“We want to commend the New Jersey State Assembly for having the courage to stand up to special interests and pass the Right to Repair Act out of their chamber,” said Charles Bryant, executive director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP-NJ). “We are disappointed that a bill that would benefit every New Jersey motorist, has 10 Senate co-sponsors and is supported by such organizations as the AAA, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and New Jersey Citizen Action was not acted upon by the Senate.”

“New Jersey consumers must have the option of taking their vehicle to a dealer or an independent repair facility of their choosing,” said Fredrick Gruel, chair of AAA Clubs of New Jersey.

It does not matter whether consumers choose a dealer, an independent or do the repair themselves. Until vehicle owners have that choice, they do not fully own their vehicle. The Right to Repair Act will provide that choice, Gruel added.

Since 2001, Right to Repair legislation has been rejected by the U.S. Congress and state legislatures in Florida, Oklahoma, Maine, New York, Nevada, New Jersey and Massachusetts, according to the ASA.

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