Washington State House Democrats


Right to Repair Bills heard in House and Senate

OLYMPIA—House and Senate committees heard public testimony this week on right to repair legislation sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac) and Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell).  

Under HB 1392 (SB 5464), Washingtonians would have the right to repair their own electronic devices rather than relying only on manufacturers and their authorized technicians.  

“I got involved in right to repair legislation when I saw in the pandemic just how many schoolkids could not get the devices they needed to get online for school,” said Gregerson in the House Consumer Protection & Business Committee on Wednesday. 

In 2020, a nationwide laptop shortage left millions of students unprepared for virtual learning, waiting through months-long delays before receiving new laptop orders. Estimates at the time suggested that refurbished computers could have filled a significant portion of the gap in supply.  

In the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee on Tuesday, Cynthia McMullen, a member of the Central Valley School Board in Spokane County, said, “School districts need reliable, efficient and affordable ways to repair their technology hardware, which is what this bill, Senate Bill 5464, provides. We will be able to make routine repairs either locally or in-house, significantly reducing the time a student or staff member’s computer is out of service.” 

The bill’s Senate sponsor emphasized the importance of the freedom to repair one’s own devices. 

“I’m fairly handy with a soldering iron and a screwdriver, and when I have an electronic device, I think I should be able to have a chance to fix it myself if I want to,” said Stanford in the Senate hearing. “But when companies put unnecessary, artificial barriers in front of me to prevent that from happening, that’s just not fair to me as a consumer. And to me, that’s really the crux of this issue.” 

Independent shop owners described the importance of their work to small communities and local economies. 

“If you pass right to repair, I know I can keep my business going, I can keep Bellingham’s phones and other devices working,” said Mitch Kramer, owner of FiXCO Computer and Phone Repair in Bellingham, in the Senate hearing. “A healthy society depends on healthy local communities.” 

Other testimony addressed the environmental benefits of the legislation. 

“This bill is good for consumers and good for the world. The U.S. is number two in the world when it comes to tonnage for waste,” said Gregerson in the House hearing. “We should be ashamed of ourselves if we can’t do something to protect our earth.” 

“According to the EPA, e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the country,” said Moji Igun of Zero Waste Washington in the Senate hearing. “Our old laptops, tablets and smartphones are all headed to the landfill, with over 258,000 tons being generated here in Washington state alone.” 

Gregerson and Stanford worked with manufacturers over the past year to reach a compromise to expand access to repair. This legislation provides that cellphone, computer and tablet manufacturers must make available, on fair and reasonable terms, the same documentation, parts, tools, and patches to certified independent repairers and owners that they provide their authorized repairers.  

“Increasingly as we’ve seen progress on this issue, and thanks to the work that this committee has done over the years in Washington state, we’ve seen manufacturers roll out programs,” said Kyle Wiens, the CEO of the online repair company iFixIt and a member of the Right to Repair Coalition. “We continue to have constructive conversations with manufacturers and we’re looking forward to more in the future.” 

The legislation now awaits executive action in each committee. 

House hearing: Watch on TVW.
Senate hearing: Watch on TVW.