Today marks a monumental step forward in the Right to Repair movement. We’re elated to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom has officially signed the California Right to Repair Act, SB 244, into law. This groundbreaking legislation passed the legislature almost unanimously last month. It has been championed by state senator Susan Talamantes Eggman and is cosponsored by iFixit, along with our colleagues in the more-fixable-stuff fight, CALPIRG (the California Public Interest Research Group), and Californians Against Waste.
“This is a victory for consumers and the planet, and it just makes sense,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG. “Right now, we mine the planet’s precious minerals, use them to make amazing phones and other electronics, ship these products across the world, and then toss them away after just a few years’ use. What a waste. We should make stuff that lasts and be able to fix our stuff when it breaks, and now thanks to years of advocacy, Californians will finally be able to, with the Right to Repair.”
The tech revolution started here in California, so it’s appropriate that we’re working to fix the problems of Big Tech here, too. With access to original parts, tools, and documentation, independent repair shops will be able to compete again. And Californians across the state—accounting for about 1 out of every 8 Americans—will be able to fix things however they see fit.
California Raises the Bar
With California’s new law, the Golden State joins Minnesota and New York, representing nearly 20% of the US population, in guaranteeing people more control over their electronic devices. This bill goes above and beyond those laws, mandating manufacturers to keep repair materials available for up to seven years, ensuring the longevity of products and reducing electronic waste.
- Covered products: all electronic and appliance products that cost $50 or more sold in California after July 1, 2021 (everything in Section 9801 of the Business and Professions code, which was just updated this session in another bill, SB 814)
- Effective date: July 1, 2024
- Difference from other states: includes 3 years of parts, tools, and documentation support for products that cost $50-$99.99; 7 years for products $100+
- Exemptions: game consoles, alarm systems, agricultural and forestry equipment (everything on this list)
“Replacing expensive electronics and appliances at an ever-quickening pace is not only a financial burden on consumers but also drives unsustainable mining and extraction that has a tremendous environmental impact up and down the supply chain,” said Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy for Californians Against Waste. “My hope is that, with the passage of SB 244, California will foster a thriving market for repair businesses and secondhand sales that will make repair the norm, not the exception.”
Although the Right to Repair movement sees this signature as a significant milestone, we are disheartened by Governor Newsom’s decision to veto Senator Dodd’s companion Right to Repair powered wheelchair bill on October 7, citing insurance billing complexities. The need for an accessible approach to repair is evident, and we remain hopeful that the next legislative session will expand on product categories and address issues like parts pairing, electric wheelchairs, and e-bike software.
While we celebrate today’s victory, the fight continues. The bill, though robust, still allows manufacturers certain leeways like parts pairing.
As we push forward, we aspire for a future where more states and countries adopt similar measures. We dream of a world where repair is not an exception but the norm.
Senator Eggman summed it up perfectly: “I’m thrilled that the Governor has signed the Right to Repair Act into law. As I’ve said all along, I’m so grateful to the advocates fueling this movement with us for the past six years, and the manufacturers that have come along to support Californians’ Right to Repair. This is a common sense bill that will help small repair shops, give choice to consumers, and protect the environment.”
If you want to get involved with the Right to Repair movement, join your local advocacy network.