Colorado Enacts First ‘Right to Repair’ Law, But Only for Wheelchairs

By: - June 3, 2022 12:00 am

A dog named Princess gets a ride on her owner’s motorized wheelchair. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed a law allowing mechanized wheelchair users to access parts and manuals to allow them to repair their own chairs. Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation to allow wheelchair owners access to parts, software and manuals so that they can repair their own chairs, the first state law to be enacted in the “right to repair” movement to allow people to fix their own stuff.

Manufacturers of cell phones, tablets, farm equipment and many other products argue that their repair information and parts are proprietary and should not be shared with do-it-yourselfers. But tinkerers across the country, including people who live far from authorized dealers, such as farmers, maintain they ought to have the ability to dig into their own repairs.

Right-to-repair bills were introduced in more than half the states last year, but under pressure from tech companies and equipment manufacturers, none passed.

The Colorado law is the first in the nation to deal with the right to repair. It allows wheelchair owners and independent repair shops to access parts, tools and documentation to diagnose, maintain and repair the devices. The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, applies only to wheelchairs, not phones, computers or farm equipment.

Under the law, manufacturers could be cited for an unfair trade practice if they refuse to comply and allow access to parts and manuals.

In March, frustrated farmers filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission aimed at forcing Deere & Co. to provide access to software, parts and manuals.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order in July directing the FTC to make rules that will limit manufacturers’ ability to restrict independent repairs of their products. Congress also is considering a bill to extend right to repair nationwide.

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Elaine S. Povich
Elaine S. Povich

Elaine S. Povich covers education and consumer affairs for Stateline. Povich has reported for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and United Press International.