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Rep. Brianna Titone: Colorado needs a right to repair law for agricultural equipment

Feb 13, 2023

The following op-ed was published in the Greeley Tribune

When you buy something and a component breaks, you should be able to fix it. This principle goes beyond the irritation you may feel at how difficult it is to get a replacement part or battery.

Many people may be unaware that there is a solution to this frustrating lack of repair problem.

Last year, we passed a bill to help people in Colorado who use motorized wheelchairs to be able to fix them themselves or choose someone they trust to make the repair. This was because they had to endure extremely long wait times, parts not being available, and high costs.

This law has been exercised successfully and is an example of how we can help consumers take back control over the things they own.

In the case of people using wheelchairs, access to the software is also crucial to make small, but critical adjustments. Robin Buldoc lives with her quadriplegic husband, Bruce, in Broomfield.

He has a small button he uses on his headrest to move the chair. But the button has an automatic two second timeout, which doesn’t allow Bruce enough time to complete the action.

Robin knew this could be changed to seven seconds, which would be enough time, but couldn’t get access to the software to make this change. They had to wait days for the authorized repairer to come and do it.

Imagine waiting days or weeks for the one authorized car mechanic to come change a tire on your car. You don’t have to because you have a lot of options, from your handy uncle to the local repair shop to the dealer itself.

Most people don’t know that they can use any car mechanic they want because of a right to repair law from 2012 that is similar to the legislation we’ve introduced this year.

This year, we are supporting the agriculture community with their right to repair their equipment.

I’ve heard many stories about farmers who say they don’t have the luxury to wait for their equipment to be fixed during planting or harvesting seasons. They have enough complex environmental variables and obstacles to deal with — fixing their equipment should not complicate things further.

Agricultural equipment has become more computerized over the years. Currently farmers are dependent on using large corporations’ expensive technicians and waiting for them to either visit the farm or having to bring the equipment to the dealer even for simple repairs.

The right to repair can make it possible to fix even these simple repairs without dealer intervention.

Our bipartisan bill is supported by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, the Corn Growers, Wheat Growers, Wool Producers, Fruit and Vegetable Producers, the Cattleman, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

They support this legislation because it will save farmers money on critical equipment repairs, support more independent repair techs, and make it easier for farmers to get back to work in the event their equipment breaks down.

The agriculture industry is the largest industry in Colorado and we all have a lot riding on their equipment. I want to be sure they can repair it effectively.

This bill will do just that — give farmers more flexibility to fix their own stuff, save time and money, and focus on the important aspects of their work which is providing quality agricultural products.

— Brianna Titone represents House District 27 in the Colorado Legislature

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