capital report: august 20, 2019

Right to Repair Coalition Files for Ballot Question in Massachusetts

On Aug. 6, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition announced that it had filed for a ballot question to enact a much-needed update to the commonwealth’s Right to Repair law. The coalition, made up of independent repair shops, auto parts stores, trade associations, consumers and drivers, claimed that a lack of progress in the legislature this year led to the filing. The ballot question would ensure that Massachusetts vehicle owners continue to have access to the repair and diagnostic information produced by their vehicle.

By 2020, advancements in vehicle technology will result in more than 90% of new cars being equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers. Such technology threatens Massachusetts vehicle owners’ ability to choose where they obtain repairs, whether at the dealer, a trusted independent repair shop or in their own garage.

The coalition supported bipartisan legislation filed in January by 12 state representatives and two state senators that would have updated the commonwealth’s Right to Repair law. Despite securing 55 co-sponsors, neither the House nor Senate bills received hearings.

“Despite the overwhelming 86% vote of support at the ballot in 2012 and the subsequent 2013 law guaranteeing access to independent repair shops, these shops are increasingly facing the prospect of having limited or no access to diagnostic and repair information now that automakers are restricting access through rapidly expanding wireless technologies in vehicles not covered under current law,” said Tommy Hickey, director, Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition.
The ballot initiative would give vehicle owners access to the diagnostic and repair data generated by their vehicle so that they could opt to provide access to any dealer, repair shop or automaker over the vehicle’s lifetime.

Attorney General Maura Healey has until Sept. 4 to certify the petition, after which the coalition will collect the 80,239 signatures required to appear on the November 2020 ballot. The initiative petition filed is entitled “An Initiative Law to Enhance, Update and Protect the 2013 Motor Vehicle Right to Repair Law.”

More information may be found at

Read a recent blog post on the issue:


Trade Update: The Latest on the Trade War with China

Below are a few developments in the ongoing trade war with China related to Section 301 tariffs on imports from China.

List 2 Products – On July 31, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issued a notice with the first round of List 2 products excluded from tariffs. Exclusions are retroactive to when the 25% tariff first went into effect back in August 2018.

List 4 Products – On Aug. 13, USTR announcedthe final products from List 4 that would subject to an additional 10% tariff effective Sept. 1, 2019. Following a USTR investigation, certain products were removed from the original proposed list due to health, safety, national security and other factors. Finally, for some consumer products, including cell phones, laptop computers, computer monitors, video game consoles and certain types of toys, footwear and clothing, this 10% tariff will be delayed until Dec. 15, 2019. Note that there are no exceptions for goods already in transit. Details on the exclusion process are forthcoming. Additional details can be found in the Federal Register notice.

Read the full member alert:


Racecar Drivers to Make Pit Stop at Legislative Summit; Last Call to Register!

NASCAR driver Chase Elliott and NHRA drag racer Clay Millican are confirmed as special guests for the 2019 Auto Care Legislative Summit, the Auto Care Association’s biennial Washington, D.C. fly-in taking place Sept. 18-19 on Capitol Hill. Elliott, Millican and Millican’s crew chief Mike Kloeber will be on-site during the Thursday evening reception for a meet-and-greet with summit attendees and lawmakers. The meet-and-greet offers the opportunity for guests to take photos, obtain autographs and have personal conversations with the racers.

The Auto Care Legislative Summit will take place over two days, with an issue briefing and reception on Wednesday, Sept. 18, followed by a full day of congressional meetings on Thursday, Sept. 19. Participants will meet with their members of Congress to educate them on the independent aftermarket and its most critical policy priorities.

Questions? Contact David Pinkham.

Learn more:


Senator Chris Van Hollen Visits Dynamic Automotive in Maryland

On Aug. 9, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., visited Dynamic Automotive’s repair shop in Frederick, Md. to discuss the impact of vehicle data access on the auto care industry and the company’s renowned apprenticeship and education programs.

Back in June, the senator paid a visit to the Auto CareAssociation’s offices in Bethesda, Md., during which we asked him a few questions about cars and his time Congress.

What was your first car?

It wasn’t my first car, but I learned to drive with astick-shift Jeep. If you can drive a stick-shift Jeep, you can drive just aboutanything. The first car I had was a second-hand, beat-up Toyota that my parentsgave to me after I worked all summer fixing up their house. I got this car, itwas practically on its last gasp, but I still drove it with a friend fromVirginia all the way to Guatemala. The first vehicle I ever purchased myselfwas a motorcycle, but when I got married, Katherine and I bought a Ford Taurusas our first family car.

Do you have a dream car? If so, what is it?

A convertible of any kind. I rent one whenever I havethe opportunity.

Have you ever performed your own maintenance?

On that Toyota – and keep in mind, there was a hole inthe floorboard – we didn’t do much maintenance. But we tried to drive it upinto Yosemite, where the altitude made the air thinner. We had to tie a stringto the carburetor, connect the string to the side mirror and then pull thestring so the carburetor would work. Anyway, we made it!

What’s been your most memorable moment from your timein Congress?

That’s hard, because there have been so many. Butduring the Obama Administration, I worked on the initiative to improverelations with Cuba – in part because I had a constituent from Bethesda, AlanGross, who was taken prisoner there and held there in jail for years. I went tovisit him a few times, and then as part of a long negotiation we were able toget him released. At President Obama’s invitation, I flew to Cuba on a secretmission out of Andrews Air Base with Senators Patrick Leahy and Jeff Flake, andAlan’s wife Judy, to pick Alan up and bring him home.

What’s a common misconception about Congress?

Well, a lot of it is true. But it is absolutely notthe case that members of opposite parties are at each other’s throats all thetime. When I got to the Senate, I made a point to have breakfast or lunch withmy Republican colleagues. And I’ve been able to introduce a fair amount ofbipartisan legislation, especially in the area of foreign policy and nationalsecurity. The 232 Tariff legislation I’m on with Senator Toomey is a goodexample of that. I also had a good personal relationship with Paul Ryan when wewere the top Republican and Democrat on the House Budget Committee, even thoughwe had deep policy differences.

What’s the best way your constituents can get in touchwith you to talk about an issue?

I’m a huge believer in getting involved in the processbecause it really can make a difference. It’s important that senators and membersof Congress hear directly from the people they represent — either in D.C. orback in their state or district offices. And the more the rank-and-file membersof organizations participate in the process, the more impact it has.


Get the Latest Coverage of the 2020 Elections

Thanks to support from the Auto Care Political Action Committee ( ACPAC), we are pleased to bring Capital Report readers the latest Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzalez, a bi-monthly nonpartisan analysis of U.S. elections

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