A misleadingly labeled "right to repair" bill passed the state Senate February 17: S. 2204, filed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. [ at http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02204 ] It was amended that day by Sen. Kennedy (D, Brockton) to exclude motorcycles.

Proponents of it seek access to electronic information that is made available to franchised vehicle dealers but not currently supplied through generic interfaces. [ Shannon Young, Associated Press, Senate passes auto 'right-to-repair' bill, May 18, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/05/18/mass_senate_passes_right_to_repair_bill/ ]

S. 2204 shares the defects of an initiative petition (currently tagged as Question 14) originated by Arthur Kinsman of Plympton, on behalf of the Right to Repair Coalition representing several hundred independent auto repair shops in Massachusetts. [ at http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/government/2011-petitions/11-14.pdf ]

Like the initiative petition, S. 2204 fails to put a state agency in charge of a "right to repair" program. Thus such a program would not benefit from state regulations. Instead, any future changes to the program would take more trips through the House and Senate--the same corruption-prone process used to regulate racetracks. Like the initiative, S. 2204 leaves disputes up to lawsuits, helping to line lawyers' pockets.

Such laws are also under review by state legislatures of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Once any of them passes, it is all but certain to be challenged by vehicle manufacturers in both state and federal lawsuits.

Federal actions may claim taking without just compensation or denial of due process. State actions may seek equitable pricing and terms. Such lawsuits often take three to six years to resolve, and they are likely to occur in cascade, not in parallel. It would probably take 10 to 15 years before a Massachusetts law had significant effects on repair shops, and it is not at all clear that the law would provide any benefit to vehicle owners.