Minnesota Governor Tim Walz just signed a bill that included comprehensive Right to Repair legislation. Other states have passed similar legislation, but Minnesota’s covers more electronics, and sets an example for federal legislators who want to stop manufacturers from making it hard for people to repair the things they own.
The Minnesota law is part of an omnibus bill and state legislators added the portions about repair to it on May 17. The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2024 and covers all electronics except video game consoles, cars, medical devices, cybersecurity tools, and farm and construction equipment.
That seems like a lot of exceptions, but the bill still covers more than any other similar law. New York’s right to repair law was watered down by tech lobbyists and exempts educational and business electronics. Massachusetts has laws solely focused on automobiles. Colorado’s laws only cover farming equipment and wheelchairs. The exclusion of tractors and other farming equipment in the Minnesota law is a huge hole in the legislation. Minnesota has been a battleground state in the fight against the right to repair.
Despite the caveats, right to repair advocates are celebrating. “This is the biggest Right to Repair win to date,” Nathan Proctor, senior director of U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, said in a statement about the news. “Minnesotans know that when things break, you fix them. And when manufacturers refuse to let us access what we need for the repair, you fix the law to make them cooperate. Repairs cut waste and save consumers money. It’s common-sense, and it is becoming increasingly clear that manufacturers’ attempts to thwart repair will no longer be tolerated. Minnesota won’t be the last state to codify that.”
“The repair revolution hit Minnesota today! Now independent repair shops can compete, and everyone who wants can fix things themselves,” Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit said in a statement. “With online documentation, people everywhere in the world—not just in Minnesota—will benefit from this. Manufacturers, get ready. Everyone else, get fixing.”
People want to be able to fix their electronics and, for a long time, manufacturers fought them. But things are changing. The FTC formally adopted the right to repair as a policy in 2021. A year later, Joe Biden signed an executive order that backed a consumer’s right to repair their electronics. Laws like the one just passed in Minnesota are working their way through state houses all across the country.