Weekly Legislative Update November 9, 2020

Expanded Right to Repair Passes in Massachusetts

Tire dealers and other independent auto repair shops can breathe easier now that an expansion of the Right to Repair law has been approved by voters in Massachusetts.

Multiple news outlets have reported that on Nov. 3, voters overwhelmingly passed by a roughly three to one margin Question 1 on the ballot, giving vehicle owners and independent repair shops in the state access to the real-time mechanical data from telematics in their customers’ vehicles.

“The drive to pass Question 1 was a grassroots effort with many industry associations, including the New England Tire & Automotive Association, the Tire Industry Association (TIA), independent tire dealerships and wholesalers, joining in the effort,” said TIA CEO Roy Littlefield. “This is a victory for the entire automotive aftermarket and will allow independent repair shops to remain competitive with franchise car dealerships’ service operations as technology in vehicles increases.”

Question 1, according to the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, “stated that vehicle manufacturers must make available all mechanical information needed to diagnose and repair cars as well as perform routine maintenance starting with 2022 models, over a secure open access platform that independent repair shops can access, when authorized by the car's owner.”

“By voting yes on 1, Massachusetts has now updated Right to Repair for the modern age of connected vehicles,” said Tommy Hickey, Coalition director. 

The victory extends the Right to Repair Act first passed in 2012 in Massachusetts, which was later expanded nationwide. That law mandated that auto makers make available the same diagnostic and repair data available to independents that car companies provide their own car dealerships and certified repair facilities.

But the law exempted data shared wirelessly through telematics. With more than 90% of new cars transmitting real-time repair information wirelessly, independent repair shops would soon have limited or no access, according to a Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee fact sheet.

Opponents to Question 1 raised concerns over consumer privacy, data ownership and usage rights.

The vote sent a clear mandate, Hickey said. “The people have spoken – by a huge margin – in favor of immediately updating right to repair so it applies to today’s high-tech cars and trucks.”

TIA Honors VAA’s Akridge with Industry Achievement Award
 
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has awarded Steve Akridge, of the Virginia Automotive Association (VAA), with the Industry Achievement Award in honor of his continuous strong leadership in support of legislative efforts that positively affect independent tire dealers.

Roy Littlefield IV, TIA’s director of government affairs, presented the award to Akridge during TIA’s virtual Tire Industry Honors program on Nov. 2.

As executive director of the VAA, Akridge and association members worked to develop a coalition supporting Virginia’s state safety inspection program after several pieces of legislation to abolish it were introduced.

“We showed up to testify at committee hearings. And our lobbyists did an amazing job of communicating to key legislators,” Akridge said. “It took a strong ‘team’ to win this battle and it was all out for three solid months. On the last day of the session, March 8, we prevailed and preserved the annual safety inspection program in Virginia.”

“Steve has been a champion in Virginia, and we wanted to recognize him and commend him for his continued leadership on past and ongoing legislative battles,” Littlefield IV said.

TIA Supports DOT Younger Driver Pilot Support Program

Dear Secretary Chao:

We write to express strong support for the Department of Transportation’s proposed pilot program to allow commercial driver’s license holders between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Your pilot program will greatly enhance transportation safety, provide young Americans with the launching pad to a rewarding career in the trucking industry, and bolster a workforce that has been essential in responding to the COVID pandemic.

As you know, the proposed pilot program closely resembles the DRIVE Safe Act (H.R.1374/S.569), legislation that enjoys large bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Support for the pro-safety and pro-jobs legislation has been driven in part by the driver shortage confronting our nation. The trucking industry was short an estimated 60,000 drivers in the most recent analysis of the industry and will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep pace with growing demand and an aging workforce. As a direct result, companies in supply chains across the economy are facing higher transportation costs, leading to increased prices for consumers on everything from household goods to food at the grocery store. If successful, this pilot program may provide a direct means for the trucking industry to partially alleviate its workforce challenges, which in turn strengthens our domestic supply chains.

Like the DRIVE Safe Act, your proposed pilot program is also firmly grounded in transportation safety. Safety is the primary purpose and goal of the Department’s regulation of commercial vehicles, and the proposed pilot program will take significant steps to ensuring the safe and efficient movement of interstate commerce. The robust training regimen established by this pilot program goes far beyond what is currently required for 18-to-20-year-old drivers in 49 states and the District of Columbia, laying the groundwork for significant safety improvements on our nation’s roads and bridges. This will lead to a highly trained and safety-focused workforce moving our nation forward.

Without question, the mobilization of the trucking industry in response to the COVID-19 emergency has demonstrated how critical the trucking workforce is to the economy and our emergency response supply chain. Given the driver shortage facing the industry, we are concerned that any attrition during this and future emergencies may cripple the industry’s ability to effectively and swiftly deliver goods and supplies. A pilot program will hopefully reinvigorate this essential workforce, ensuring that the trucking industry is well-equipped to confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and any future health crisis.

Thank you for moving forward with this important pilot program, which closely mirrors the DRIVE Safe Act, which we hope will become law soon. We look forward to working closely with you in this effort to support and bolster both transportation safety and our essential trucking workforce.

Sincerely,

The Tire Industry Association and others

SBA Releases Questionnaire to Lenders, Requiring For-Profit and Nonprofit PPP Borrowers of $2 Million or More to Provide Significant Detail on Certification of Need

On October 26, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a notice in the Federal Register that it would be utilizing Loan Necessity Questionnaires in connection with its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan review process. Borrowers who – together with their affiliates, as that term has been defined through the Interim Final Rules and other guidance – received loans with an original principal amount of $2 million or greater must complete the questionnaires.  

The SBA crafted two separate questionnaire forms, which it has begun releasing to lenders. SBA Form 3509 will be used by for-profit borrowers, and SBA Form 3510 will be used by nonprofit borrowers. Lenders are expected to distribute the forms to applicable borrowers, and borrowers must complete the forms and provide supporting documentation to lenders within ten business days. Lenders then have five days to upload borrower responses and documents to the SBA’s loan forgiveness platform.