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Oregon ‘right to repair’ bill passes state Senate

Sen. Janeen Sollman would like to return to the days when people could use a user manual and the ability to purchase spare parts to fix an electronic device rather than junk it.

On Tuesday morning, the Oregon state Senate approved Senate Bill 1596, the “right to repair” bill, and the Oregon Democratic lawmaker’s wish became one step closer to a reality.

The measure would ensure equipment manufacturers like Apple and Google provide both repair tools and information to independent repair shops, giving consumers more opportunities to fix their electronic devices. Sollman, of Hillsboro, has been pushing the policy since 2021.

The lawmaker noted in written testimony that Oregonians trash an estimated 4,800 cell phones every day, which puts toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium into landfills.

“This is a win for consumers and for the environment,” Sollman said in a statement. “Oregonians deserve to have affordable and sustainable options for repairing their electronics instead of throwing them away or replacing them.”

Sollman said she believes the measure would also help “close the technological divide” by allowing schools or other institutions to refurbish their technology and give it a longer lifespan.

State Sen. Janeen Sollman, a Democrat from Hillsboro, poses on the Senate floor in the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

State Sen. Janeen Sollman, a Democrat from Hillsboro, poses on the Senate floor in the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Ore., on March 16, 2023.

Andrew Selsky / AP

Republican Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, co-sponsored the measure, which passed with bipartisan support in the chamber.

“I fundamentally believe that consumers should have the right to choose how to repair their own property,” Thatcher said in a statement.

The measure passed on a 25-5 vote.

Sen. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, voted against the measure.

Bonham said businesses should have the ability to work with whomever they want.

“I cannot believe the state believes it’s their right or their responsibility to force any business to do business with another third-party business,” he said.

One of the major sticking points in the legislation early on was surrounding what’s known as “parts pairing” where a company, such as Apple, limits the device’s usefulness by using software to ensure it will only operate with parts approved by the manufacturer.

Under the current proposal, starting in 2025, manufacturers cannot use “parts pairing” to reduce the functionality of a product.

At least four states — California, New York, Minnesota and Colorado — have enacted right-to-repair bills in recent years.

The measure now goes to the Oregon House.

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