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Right to Repair Law: coming to Vermont?

MIDDLEBURY-Vermont may get a Right to Repair Law if businessman Steve Dupoise gets his way.

Dupoise is the new president of the NETSA, the New England Tire and Service Association. He's also owner of County Tire, a tire and auto servicing center in Middlebury.

Dupoise, who was elected president of NETSA last week, said the regional business association is supporting an effort to pass a Right to Repair bill in the Massachusetts State House.

"If the effort succeeds," said Dupoise," it will probably be introduced here in Vermont."

According to NETSA, through electronic technology, auto manufacturers-both domestic and foreign-are increasingly "locking out" car owners and independent repair shops like Dupoise's County Tire from servicing work.

According to industry data, Vermont's aftermarket business employed 3,531 people representing 1.2 percent of the state's total workforce in 2010. And the Green MountainState has more than 629,000 private and commercial vehicles on area roads. For a small state, annual aftermarket sales in Vermont is big-close to $701 million.

In addition to regional efforts such as NETSA's, the big auto-service organizations have been on the national band wagon since 2009-the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality are actively lobbying members of Congress to support the proposed Right to Repair Act to provide consumer's with more choice while helping keep their repair costs down.

According to a statement by the Right to Repair Coalition, "Computers and electronics control nearly every vehicle function from safety and emissions to ignition keys. Although these computers provide many benefits to motorists through improved fuel efficiency, comfort and safety, they also provide increasing opportunities for car companies to lock out access by car owners and independent repair shops."

Dupoise said Maine-based NETSA is supporting New England's first test for such a law in the Bay State, Massachusetts.

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