By ANDREW HENSEL, The Center Square
A measure at the Illinois statehouse would require manufacturers of certain products and services to provide parts and software needed for Illinoisans to make their own repairs.
House Bill 3061, or the “Digital Fair Repair Act,” was introduced last year by state Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, to help farmers acquire the parts they need for repairs.
The bill recently was heard before the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and IT committee as witnesses from farming and health-care services pleaded their case for the bill.
Willie Cade, Midwest regional director for Repair.org, explained that farming companies and others have an unfair advantage over people who choose to buy their products.
“John Deere and other manufacturers have 24/7, 365 days a year access to the equipment needed in the field,” Cade said. “This gives them an enormous amount of power over the products they have supposedly sold.”
Committee member and state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, asked the witnesses how this legislation would improve their services.
“How would passing this bill … improve your bottom line or make your life easier or your patients safer or your services better?” Caulkins asked.
U.S. Public Information Research Group (PIRG) advocate Kevin O’Reilly said that all citizens are worse off when workers, like farmers, don’t have access to the things they were promised.
“John Deere has fallen short of that commitment, and so farmers and all Americans who rely on them to produce food are worse off,” O’Reilly said.
Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr said that the most important thing is that if you buy something, it is then yours.
“It should be that when you buy something you own it,” Scarr said. “That means you have a right of action, but increasingly manufacturers are trying to turn us from owners into renters.”
The bill is set to go in front of the committee once again on Jan. 20.