A N.H. legislative committee has narrowly given a thumbs-down to a watered-down version of a “right-to-repair” law, continuing the trend of lawmakers in the Live Free or Die state saying people shouldn’t be free to fiddle with things they buy.
The bill would require home appliance manufacturers to make certain repair-related documentation, parts and tools available to independent repair shops and the people who buy the appliances. It was given an “inexpedient to legislate” tag (that is, a recommendation to not become law) by the House Commerce Committee on a party line vote: The 10 Republicans opposed the bill and the 8 Democrats supported it.
More sweeping versions of this bill have been killed in past years. This one only applied to home appliances, sidestepping concerns about the effect on medical equipment or lawn tractors.
I didn’t cover the hearing, held over Zoom, but the arguments followed past patterns. Supporters said it’s only fair to let people decide what to do with the stuff they buy, and that making it impossible fills landfills and wastes consumer money. Opponents painted a picture of fumble-thumbed amateurs killing themselves trying to fix their washing machines. That was the essence of arguments over a broader right-to-repair bill in 2019 as I reported at the time. One opposition argument that didn’t seem to come up this time is that government shouldn’t interfere with private business.
The bill can still survive in this or other form but an ITL committee recommendation usually means the full House will kill it.