Legislative Update- April 10, 2023
Sunday, April 9, 2023
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

guy fixing tractor
The week of April 10th will have the lobbying team chasing a few different policies including things like keeping our economy strong and encouraging the legislature to avoid new taxes and fees but this week there are a few other issues that have popped up that theyll be engaging with. The Senate passed out their usual must pass Department of Motor Vehicle bill which usually has technical corrections to law and sometimes other policy but included a towing lien policy that could harm contractors. The House Agriculture Committee has passed a bill known as "right to repair" for agriculture equipment that will be taken up by the commerce committee.

The towing provision that was slipped into the DMV bill at the last moment gives authority to towing companies to assign liens and take possession of the contents of any vehicle they tow during their normal business until they're fully paid. This is a challenge to contractors as if they are being mobilized and the hauler needs a tow, but cant pay the bill or disputes the bill, the contractor could have no recourse to get their equipment to the job site. The delay getting equipment to the jobsite will have many repercussions including direct losses of time and site planning but could lead to liquidated damages in a contract. The lobbying team working with Vermont Truck and Bus Association in addition to other interested parties will meet with the House Transportation committee to request that the provision be stripped from the bill.

The agriculture "right to repair" bill which passed out of its first committee has a somewhat misleading name. The bill proponents argue that original equipment manufacturers and their authorized retailers are holding a monopoly on repair and diagnostic solutions. They had national lobbyists and specialty farmers testify that delays in getting code authorizations for onboard computers and overpriced diagnostic tools were causing the loss of crops and other hardships. Opponents of the bill including several Vermont based retailers denied that parts, diagnostic equipment and manuals were not available to owners and independent repair shops. Those retailers also explained that only restrictions an owner or independent repair person including authorized retailers do not have the ability to adjust safety or emission settings within the equipment due to Federal law. The bill has one major element that is challenging to industry and it is a clause that would create price fixing for the tools and parts for that equipment. The bill reads that the original equipment manufacturer has to offer parts and tools to the public at the same price and terms as an authorized dealer which if this policy becomes law is the beginning of the end of the rest of retail in the state of Vermont. This week the House Commerce committee will take up the bill and several AGC/VT equipment dealer members will weigh in on the merits of the bill and the damage it will lead to in our economy.