California is set to pass only the second substantive right-to-repair bill in the U.S. after its state House and Senate each unanimously approved it. A procedural vote and the governor's pen are all that stands between the Right to Repair Act and becoming law. Minnesota passed a similar bill earlier this year, which will become law in 2024.
This bill stands out from the laws that passed in Minnesota and New York by ensuring that repairs stay possible for longer. Manufacturers are mandated to keep repair materials, ranging from parts and tools to software and documentation, available for extended periods post-production: 3 years for products within the $50-$99.99 price bracket, and 7 years for those priced $100 or above. The bill applies to electronic and appliance products made and sold after July 1, 2021.
"The era of manufacturers' repair monopolies is ending, as well it should be," said Kyle Wiens, iFixit CEO. "Accessible, affordable, widely available repair benefits everyone. We're especially thrilled to see this bill pass in the state where iFixit is headquartered, which also happens to be Big Tech's backyard. Since Right to Repair can pass here, expect it to be on its way to a backyard near you."
Though the bill is strong and should make repairs more available for everyone, it allows manufacturers to continue to engage in parts pairing, a practice by which they limit repairs with software blocks. They can also combine parts into expensive assemblies, which makes repairs more expensive.
It seems certain to receive the governor's approval, but when New York legislators passed a similar law, Gov. Kathy Hochul there neutralized it to please tech lobbyists. Apple, however, unexpectedly decided to support California's legislation a few weeks ago.