Massachusetts "Right to Repair" Initiative, Question 1 (2012)

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Question 1
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Type:State statute
Referred by:Right to Repair Coalition
Topic:Business regulation
The Massachusetts "Right to Repair" Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in the state of Massachusetts as an initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure, originally filed four times with the Massachusetts Attorney General, was filed by Arthur W. Kinsman, and was assigned initiative numbers 11-17. The proposal would require automobile manufacturers to provide non-proprietary diagnostic directly to consumers and also the safety information needed to repair their cars.[1][2]

According to reports, on the last day of session, a legislative compromise was confirmed. Although the compromise was enacted, Question 1 remained on the ballot. The measure would become a law as well, if voters approved it.[3]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results:

Massachusetts Question 1
Approveda Yes 2,353,603 87.7%

Results via the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Text of the measure

Ballot language

The ballot language of the measure read as follows:[4]

A YES VOTE would enact the proposed law requiring motor vehicle manufacturers to allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities in Massachusetts to have access to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers’ Massachusetts dealers and authorized repair facilities.

A NO VOTE would make no change in existing laws.[5]


The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure:

  • The main proponents of the measure, and the group that organized the petition drive, was the Right to Repair Coalition.
  • The primary goal, according to advocates, was to expand consumer choice with respect to service centers, and increase number of independent shops that have the ability to repair vehicles.[6]
  • During a legislative hearing on the measure, Ray Magliozzi, co-host of a National Public Radio show, testified in favor of the legislation: “This legislation protects consumer choice and levels the playing field for independent repair shops. Right now, many repairers do not have access to the information and the customer pays big for that disadvantage.[7]
  • State Representative Daniel Winslow stated at the same hearing that the measure should be passed by the legislature and not sent to the ballot, stating: "This legislation is about protecting customer choice, promoting safety, and saving consumers time and money. Consumers are enduring expensive dealership costs and the legislature has the ability to bring relief now. They need to act."[7]
  • Officials at AAA of Pioneer Valley in West Springfield and AAA of Southern New England endorsed a "yes" vote on Question 1.
    • Sandra J. Marsian, of the AAA of Pioneer Valley stated, "Today, with the evolution of telematics, your car is a rolling computer that generates a significant amount of information about the health state of your car. In late model vehicles manufactured over the past several years, electronic data is produced by the vehicle that can inform its owner of an under-inflated tire, a nearly-dead battery, worn brake pads and a host of other information that can directly affect the safety of you and your passengers. It’s AAA’s position that the owner of the vehicle owns this information and should have access to it whenever needed."[8]


The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:

  • Opponents claimed repair shops could already access the data to proprietary information they need and categorized the ballot proposal as a "power grab" by parts manufacturers to control proprietary information.[9]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Massachusetts ballot measures, 2012


  • The Boston Herald stated, "Approval by voters would lead to two conflicting laws on the books. Voters would be well advised to SKIP IT as planned — OR VOTE NO. Playing games with the democratic process ought not be rewarded."[10]

Path to the ballot

Initial circulation

Each of the ten original signers of the proposed measure must obtain certificates of voter registration from the board of registrars or election commission in the city or town where they are registered voters. The certificate of voter registration must be signed by at least three registrars. These certificates and the original petition must then be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Once the petition is found acceptable, the Attorney general will prepare a summary and return it and the petition to the petitioners, who must file the petition and summary with the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Once that is submitted, petitions are printed and circulation can begin.

Backers must then collect 68,911 signatures by November 23, 2011 and turn them into local registrars. On October 21, 2011, the group behind the initiative effort, The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, was reported to have collected 106,658 voter signatures. This came only 19 days after the initiative was given clearance to circulation. The amount of signatures collected was far greater than the 68,911 needed to be considered by the general assembly and potentially for the 2012 ballot.

Signature filing

Signatures were filed by the deadline, according to reports, by supporters. Validated signatures were then returned to supporters, who then had until the December 7, 2011 petition drive deadline to turn those signatures in to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office.[11]

Those signatures were deemed valid, according to reports. In late December 2011, supporters of the group stated that the Massachusetts Secretary of State sent a letter confirming that enough signatures were valid.

Since the measure was an indirect initiated state statute, the proposal was filed with the Massachusetts Legislature by Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin as signatures were verified before the start of 2012.[12]

According to Sandy Bass-Cors, of the supporting group, Coalition for Auto Repair Equality: "We are hopeful that Massachusetts lawmakers will pass Right to Repair legislation in the coming months, but if they do not act, Massachusetts voters will have the last word thus ending the battle that has pitted the large vehicle manufacturers against the state's consumers and the independent aftermarket."[13]

Second signature-gathering phase

It was reported that supporters must have gathered additional signatures to obtain 2012 ballot access as an alternative to a legislative compromise, in case that compromise did not come into fruition. Those signatures must have been obtained from about 1/2 of 1% of voters who voted in the last governor election. This amounted to 11,000 signatures[14]

On June 6, 2012, it was reported that the group sponsoring the measure, The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, stated that it had achieved its goal of 20,000 signatures, more than enough needed to make the ballot. Leaders of the group stated that they would submit those signatures before the early-July deadline.[15]

Validated signatures needed to be turned in by the first Wednesday of July to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office. Since the deadline fell on a national holiday, July 4, that deadline was July 3. Supporters turned in signatures by the deadline. Those signatures were verified. The measure was placed on the ballot.[16]

Legislative review

On March 21, 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature heard arguments regarding the measure, with supporters urging the lawmaking body to enact the measure and forgo public vote.[7]

The measure had been scheduled to be considered by the Massachusetts State Senate on April 5, 2012.[17]

More than a month after that, the Massachusetts Senate passed the "Right-to-Repair" legislation on May 18, sending it to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.[18][6]

This was the second time in three years that a similar bill has passed the Senate, having passed once before in 2010, but the previous measure fell short when the House failed to bring the legislation to a vote.[18][6]

State Rep. Garrett Bradley stated that car manufacturers, who were against the measure, should accept a legislative deal, or they will likely lose at the ballot. According to reports, Bradley has proposed legislation similar to the 2012 ballot initiative.[19]

According to reports, on the last day of session, a legislative compromise was confirmed. Although the compromise was enacted, Question 1 remained on the ballot because the compromise bill was reached after the July 3, 2012 deadline.[20]

See also


  1. The Sacramento Bee, "Consumers to Drive 2012 Massachusetts Right to Repair Vote," September 14, 2011 (dead link)
  2. Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Current Petitions Filed," accessed August 8, 2011
  3. 'CBS News, "Mass. 'Right to Repair' compromise signed into law," August 7, 2012 (dead link)
  4. Massachusetts Secretary of State, "2012 Information For Voters," accessed September 14, 2012
  5. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Sacremento Bee, "Right to Repair Act Passes Massachusetts Senate," accessed May 22, 2012 (dead link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Modern Tire Dealer, "Mass. repairers pack Right to Repair hearing," March 22, 2012
  8. Massachusetts Live, "Auto clubs endorse Massachusetts 'right to repair' ballot question," October 15, 2012
  9. Daily News Transcript, "Attention and lobbying shifts to house on auto repair issue," May 22, 2012
  10. Boston Herald, "And Question 1? Forget it," October 22, 2012
  11. Mass Live, "4 proposed ballot laws could go to Massachusetts voters in November," December 4, 2011
  12. Mass Live, "Secretary of State William Galvin to file statewide ballot questions proposing 'death with dignity,' medical marijuana and teacher evaulations," January 3, 2011
  13. Sacramento Bee, "Right to Repair Advances in Massachusetts: Certified Voter Signatures Approved by Secretary of State," December 27, 2011 (dead link)
  14. Boston Herald, "Next stage to begin in Mass. ballot effort," May 2, 2012
  15. Trucking Info, "Massachusetts Right to Repair Surpasses Ballot Petition Goal," June 6, 2012
  16. Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Initiative Petition for Law," accessed August 10, 2011
  17. After Market News, "Massachusetts Senate Sets Date for Right to Repair Vote," April 3, 2012
  18. 18.0 18.1 Bussinessweek, "Mass. Senate passes auto 'right-to-repair' bill," accessed May 22, 2012
  19. Mass Live, "Massachusetts legislators eye possible compromises to kill ballot questions," June 17, 2012
  20. 'CBS News, "Mass. 'Right to Repair' compromise signed into law," August 7, 2012 (dead link)