Michigan Auto Repair Bill Vetoed by Governor

June 20, 2016

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation Thursday that he said would have unfairly and artificially restricted competition in the car parts industry, raising the cost of auto repairs and insurance premiums.

The bill, HB 4344, which won approval on 86-23 and 33-3 votes in the Republican-controlled House and Senate over objections from conservative groups and others, would have amended Michigan’s motor vehicle service and repair law. Snyder, a Republican, said he supported much of the “modernization” bill, but he balked at revisions related to when original parts would have to be used in repairs instead of less expensive aftermarket parts.

He specifically took exception to a requirement that body shops, in the first five years of a vehicle’s warranty, do certain repairs only with new or re-certified parts from the original manufacturer or parts that had been tested and verified as meeting the quality of original parts. There would have been an exception if the vehicle owner authorized aftermarket parts in writing.

Snyder said protecting consumers and ensuring that vehicles are safely repaired is a “laudable goal,” but some structural parts such as bumpers affect safety while fenders, grilles and other “primarily cosmetic” parts do not.

“This bill doesn’t sufficiently delineate between the two types of parts, thereby limiting the use of safe, high quality aftermarket parts designed specifically for particular vehicles,” he wrote to lawmakers. Prohibiting mechanics from using safe alternative parts “is an inappropriate impediment on the competition that has resulted in both high quality OEM and aftermarket parts for Michigan drivers to enjoy,” he said in the veto letter.

He likened the provision to requiring pharmacists to obtain a waiver from customers to sell them generic drugs instead of more expensive name-brand medications.

Republican Rep. Peter Pettalia of Presque Isle, who sponsored the legislation and is the co-owner of an Alpena auto repair business, applauded the veto. He said while he remains “very concerned” about the use of “inferior” major component parts, he said the Senate added overly strict requirements to his bill – changes the House agreed to after reinserting a provision to let customers demand cheaper parts in writing.

“I’m very comfortable with where the governor went with this,” Pettalia said in a phone interview.

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