Sunday November 4, 2012

Ballot question quirks are not unusual in Massachusetts, but Question 1, the so-called Right to Repair referendum, is one of the oddest. Advocates and opponents have reached a legislative compromise and both are urging a No vote Tuesday to fend off a potentially confusing situation should the question pass.

Question 1 originally advocated by the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition would have required car manufacturers to provide car owners with access to the same diagnostic and repair information the manufacturers provide to car dealers by the year 2015. In July, the Legislature passed into law a bill requiring manufacturers to provide this information by 2018, giving them an extra three years to comply. With Right to Repair now law, the repair coalition now urges a No vote on its own ballot question, as the deal came too late to take it off the ballot.

While it seems a bit "socialistic" for government to require an industry to give away its proprietary information, the prospect of lower repair bills once independent repair shops get this information apparently persuaded the usual advocates of big business to set aside their principles. The legislative compromise is an improvement over the ballot question, however, and The Eagle joins car manufacturers and the repair coalition in urging a No vote on Question 1.