As the battle for data access continues throughout the automotive industry, many in the right-to-repair movement have been fighting hard for the REPAIR Act to pass: a piece of legislation that grants vehicle owners and independent automotive shops access to data needed for certain repairs.
The Auto Care Association (ACA) has been on the frontlines of the fight for the REPAIR Act and recently carried out its Legislative Summit in Washington D.C. on September 20 and 21. The event brought together ACA members from across the country to go to Capitol Hill and advocate for the REPAIR Act.
Only a week later, a hearing was held on the bill by the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee.
Dwayne Myers of Dynamic Automotive has been an ACA member for over a decade and has become increasingly involved in the right-to-repair movement since he joined. Now, he shares what happened at the Legislative Summit and what the future of the REPAIR Act could look like with Ratchet+Wrench.
A Stampede of Orange Ties
The event was a coordinated, organized effort to reach out to as many representatives as possible. ACA members were split into groups by state for areas they represented, with ACA scheduling meetings for them.
Members used an app on their phones that informed them when their meetings were scheduled, where they were taking place and talking points to go over during the meeting.
Though the face-to-face contact and communication were made by ACA members, Myers credits the organization for the tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work it does.
In the past, ACA has arranged for representatives from Congress to visit Myers's shop: they made contact and set up the meeting, making it so that Myers could focus on running his business while still being able to be seen by his representatives.
“If it wasn't for Auto Care Association, it would be a lot harder. You just don't know what you don't know,” says Myers. “Of course, we're still doing the work–but they do all the back work, which makes it really easy.”
When representatives visit his shop, Myers breaks down to them what data is required for the jobs his team does. He puts a scanner in their hand and shows them what data they receive and what data they need.
These meetings pay off during events like the Legislative Summit, where Myers was immediately recognized by one of his senators.
“He had been to our shop before, so he recognized us,” remembers Myers. “And he saw our orange ties, which is one of the best marketing things they could have ever done. Because we kept hearing people saying, ‘Oh, there's so many of you here walking around,’ and he saw the ties and said, ‘Auto Care.’ And he said, ‘That's Right to Repair, and I support that.’”
During the Legislative Summit, ACA members met with many who weren’t familiar with the REPAIR Act and needed more information before making a stance on it.
Many who spoke with ACA members indicated plans to share what they learned about the bill with those on the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee, who only a week later held a hearing on the REPAIR Act.
Just a Bill on Capitol Hill
Myers hopes that another piece of legislation will soon be presented in the Senate to complement the REPAIR Act currently in the House, helping it to move forward on both sides of Congress.
For now, the fight is ongoing to gain more sponsors to support the bill, which has been presented as a bipartisan piece of legislation that both parties can get behind. Before the Legislative Summit, the number of sponsors for the bill was somewhere in the 40s, and since the event, more have agreed to come on board.
The ACA’s website serves as a resource for anyone looking to become involved in right-to-repair advocacy. Myers recommends simply reaching out to the organization, and from there, they can connect individuals with opportunities available. Additionally, becoming familiar with and contacting your local representatives is a great way to make your voice heard on the REPAIR Act.
“They're doing it like Noah's Ark: they're doing one Republican, one Democrat at a time,” describes Myers. “So it is a completely bipartisan bill to show that, you know, like my customers, I serve all flavors. It doesn't matter to me what your political (stance is) or whatever, I'm here to help you; and that's how they're trying to design the bill.”