Wilson: Right to Repair closer than ever, but needs final push

Updated Jan 26, 2024
Ann Wilson

Ann Wilson, senior vice president for government affairs at MEMA, says that 12,000 bills were introduced in the U.S. Congress last year. 

Among those was H.R. 906, the REPAIR Act, by Rep. Neal Dunn, a Florida Republican. 

Of the 12,000 bills introduced, Wilson says, 258 got a vote. Only 34 of those were enacted. As for H.R. 906, it sits with the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

[RELATED: Distributor panel at HD Aftermarket Dialogue addresses inevitable changes coming to aftermarket]

"It's really stacked against us to rise above the noise and make it a must-pass bill," Wilson says. She encouraged attendees of the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue to reach out to every one of the 54 members of that committee. 

"Those 54 members all need to be touched," Wilson says, not just by lobbyists like herself, but also by constituents, like the people attending HDAD and Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week

"Members of Congress want to hear from all of you," she says. "They want to know your business depends on passing repair access." 

Here's another number Wilson stressed. No. 1. As in H.R. 906 is the No. 1 legislative priority for MEMA this year. 

"We need to get it done and we are marshalling all our resources to do it," Wilson says. The bill faces tough opposition from OEMs and dealers, but Wilson stressed that doesn't make the effort impossible. Hosting Congressional visitors and making sure representatives hear from the industry is critical to the effort to pass H.R. 906, she says. 

"You should be worried about trucks," Wilson says. "There's a wholesale effort to exclude trucks from 906. We've got to make sure we keep trucks in that bill." 

Wilson says the association is also monitoring regulations regarding emissions. The Biden administration is close to finalizing rules about heavy duty and light vehicle emissions, Wilson says, with an announcement possible this spring. 

"When they do that, our team will go to work right away," Wilson says, promising the room information about dates, requirements and conflicts with California's rule, which Wilson called "draconian." 

Chinese goods and tariffs are another concern for MEMA. Virtually all motor vehicle parts have a tariff associated with them, WIlson says. 

"We've gotten to a place where the temporary tariffs are the cost of doing business," she says, and those tariffs have biaprtisan support in Congress. Recently, a select committee on Chinese Communist Party released a report on business between the two countries. 

"I would recommend a really big cup of coffee or something stronger to sit down and read it," Wilson says. "If you're doing business in China, you really, really need to pay attention to it." 

Labor is another issue on MEMA's radar. Not only on the strikes that plagued heavy duty and other industries last year, but also on proposed changes to independent contractor regulations, on changes to the OSHA walk-around rule and changes to the minimum wage.

Other issues MEMA is watching, Wilson says, are a potential Supreme Court ruling on the Chevron Doctrine on agency interpretations of U.S. law and changes in tax deductions for research and development

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