Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has signed a groundbreaking right-to-repair law after it passed the state legislature in April. The rules, part of an omnibus appropriations bill, require electronics manufacturers to let independent repair shops and consumers buy the parts and tools necessary to repair their own equipment. But the rules don’t apply to some notable categories, including farm equipment, game consoles, medical devices, and motor vehicles.
The new Minnesota rules take effect July 1st, 2024, and they cover products sold on or after July 1st, 2021. If manufacturers sell a product in the state, they must offer residents the equipment to repair it on “fair and reasonable” terms within 60 days, and they must offer documentation for performing repairs and service free of charge. Failure to do so will violate Minnesota’s Deceptive Trade Practices statute, opening manufacturers up to penalties from the attorney general.
Technically, Minnesota isn’t the first state with broad right-to-repair rules. New York had a statute signed into law last year, and it’s set to take effect in July. But the New York bill was critically weakened before Governor Kathy Hochul signed it; among other things, it removed requirements to sell individual parts and let repair technicians bypass software locks, and it didn’t clearly apply to devices sold before the law was passed.
Right-to-repair advocates are far more optimistic — albeit not unconditionally positive — about Minnesota’s rules. “This is the biggest right to repair win to date,” said Nathan Proctor, who leads the right to repair initiative at public interest group PIRG, in a statement. PIRG notes that Minnesota is the first state to offer right-to-repair protections for home appliances and commercial and educational computing systems, which were carved out of New York’s law. In a blog post, repair site iFixit focused on the free documentation element. “With online documentation, people everywhere in the world — not just in Minnesota — will benefit from this,” said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens.
As PIRG notes, the rules were narrowed on their way to the governor’s desk. Farm equipment was carved out during negotiations over the bill, as were cybersecurity tools. In an email to The News Brig, repair technician and right-to-repair activist Louis Rossmann expressed disappointment that game consoles weren’t covered and concern that the cybersecurity exceptions might be abused as a loophole. “But it’s worded better than the New York bill,” Rossmann said. “It’s definitely a great start.”
Other states, meanwhile, continue to push right-to-repair efforts for specific equipment categories — Colorado’s governor signed a law guaranteeing repair options for farm equipment last month.