Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a groundbreaking recovery bill after it was passed by the state legislature in April. The rules, part of an omnibus credit law, require electronics manufacturers to allow independent repair shops and consumers to purchase the parts and tools needed 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 go into effect on July 1, 2024, and they cover products sold on or after July 1, 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 provide documentation for free repairs and service. Failure to do so violates the Minnesota Deceptive Business Practices statute, which exposes manufacturers to attorney general penalties.
Technically, Minnesota isn’t the first state to have broad rules on the right to repair. New York signed a statute last year and it will go into effect in July. But New York’s bill was critically watered down before Governor Kathy Hochul signed it into law; it removed requirements to sell individual parts and allow repairers to bypass software locks, among other things, and it did not clearly apply to devices sold before the law was passed.
Right-to-reparation advocates are much more optimistic — if not unreservedly positive — about Minnesota’s rules. “This is the biggest right-to-repair victory to date,” Nathan Proctor, who leads the right-to-repair initiative at advocacy group PIRG, said in a statement. PIRG notes that Minnesota is the first state to offer repair law for home appliances and commercial and educational computer systems, which evolved from New York law. In a blog post, repair site iFixit focused on the free documentation element. “With online documentation, people everywhere — not just Minnesota — will benefit,” said Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit.
As PIRG points out, the rules were narrowed down on the way to the governor’s office. Farm equipment was eliminated during the bill’s negotiations, as were cybersecurity tools. In an email to The edge, repairman and right-to-repair activist Louis Rossmann expressed disappointment that game consoles were not covered and concerned that the cybersecurity exceptions could be exploited as a loophole. “But it’s worded better than the New York bill,” Rossmann said. “It’s certainly a good start.”
Other states, meanwhile, continue to push for repairs for specific categories of equipment — Colorado’s governor last month signed a law guaranteeing repair capabilities for farm equipment.