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FTC Hosts Workshop “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions”

This week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted a workshop entitled “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions.” The purpose of the workshop was to focus “on how manufacturers may limit repairs by consumers and repair shops and whether those limitations affect consumer protection, including consumers’ rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.” The workshop included three panel discussions titled, “How do repair restrictions affect consumers and small businesses?”, “What are the arguments for and against repair restrictions?”, and “What’s the Fix?” Small business owners, industry experts, and state government officials were amongst the panelists that spoke during the workshop discussing how all industries are impacted by manufacturer restrictions and possible solutions.

The FTC is seeking comments and research on this topic until September 16, 2019. To submit a comment or research, click here.

To view the workshop in its entirety, click here.

Washington Post hosts event Transformers: Cities

Recently the Washington Post held an event entitled, “Transformers: Cities” which included three panels discussing how technology is impacting urbanization and how tech innovators and policymakers are utilizing data and advanced technology to bring America’s cities into the future.

The first panel entitled, “Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Development” included speakers Andrew Altman, Principal at Fivesquares Development, and Kimberly Nelson, Executive Director of State and Local Government Solutions at Microsoft. Altman discussed that there are two massive trends happening right now, and that is increased urbanization in conjunction with technological change. Altman highlighted that it is important that cities are able to use data and create platforms to help address complicated issues facing urban communities. Nelson echoed similar sentiments stating that it’s important that data driven, collaborative environments are created so that city programs can share the info they need to make the right decision and that’s where private companies can work with state and local governments and leaders.

The second panel entitled, “Innovations in Mobility” included speakers Tim Bean, CEO at Fortem Technologies, Ian Rainey, Senior Vice President at Northeast Maglev, and Stephen Taylor, Regional Director at Lyft. Conquering three different transportation industries in this panel, there was a lively discussion on digitizing the sky, highspeed rail projects, and environmental and safety impacts, and ridesharing.

The third panel entitled, “The Transformative Power of 5G” included speakers Geoffrey Starks, Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, and John Godfrey, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Samsung. Both Starks and Godfrey emphasized the importance of having 5G. Not only will opening up the 5.9G band for traffic safety and vehicles to everything (V2X) technology increase safety for drivers and pedestrians, Godfrey explained how 5G will transform the phone experience. Starks also touched on how national security plays a role and bridging the rural divide. 5G networks will be able to operate faster in real time, in turn connecting more American’s to broadband.

To view the whole program, click here.

U.S. Congress Introduces Bills to Abolish the Federal Insurance Office

Both chambers of Congress have seen bills introduced this year to abolish the Federal Insurance Office. The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) was established by Title V of the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank). The FIO is housed within the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is headed by a director who is appointed by the secretary of the Treasury.

Opposition to the FIO can be seen by the introduction of two bills; H.R. 1862, the Federal Insurance Office Abolishment Act of 2019 by U.S. Congressman Alexander Mooney (R-WV), and S. 1586, introduced by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and James Inhofe (R-OK). In a press release, Senator Cruz stated that this bill will “rein in bureaucratic overreach by the federal government and allow insurance regulation to be centered in the states.”

U.S. Congressman Mooney also introduced the same legislation during the 115thCongress, however, the bill died in committee. Despite numerous attempts to abolish the FIO, The Automotive Service Association (ASA) sought the establishment of the FIO, during Dodd-Frank deliberations, to offset a state regulatory insurance environment that was biased against collision shops and consumers. The ASA opposes any efforts to abolish or limit the FIO’s jurisdiction.

The Consumer Federation of America Holds Conference Call

According to Politico, the Consumer Federation of America will hold a conference call briefing today “to discuss ‘new research on how major auto insurers charge higher prices to consumers who have minimum liability limits and want to increase their protection.'”

The call will be today, July 15, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

Participants include:

  • Bob Hunter, CFA Director of Insurance
  • Doug Heller, CFA Insurance Expert

Call-in phone number is: 800-247-5110; password, CFACALL.

To learn about the Consumer Federation of America, click here.

CARB Announces Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Working Group Meeting

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today that they will be hosting a Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Working Group Meeting. CARB states that the purpose of the working group meeting is for “truck and fleet owners, trucking industry representatives, non-governmental organization representatives, other interested and knowledgeable stakeholders to identify, discuss, and evaluate key technical and programmatic components of a future, comprehensive HD I/M program.”

Details for the meeting are listed below:

DATE:                Tuesday, July 16, 2019
TIME:                 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. PDT
LOCATION:       CARB Depot Park Facility
8340 Ferguson Avenue
Enforcement Division Office
Conference Room 111
Sacramento, California 95828

If you plan to attend in person, please RSVP by Friday, July 12, 2019, to Krista Fregoso.

For more information regarding the event, click here.

NHTSA Seeks Comments on Crash Report Sampling System

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is tasked with the responsibility to “collect crash data that support the establishment and enforcement of motor vehicle regulations and highway safety programs. These regulations and programs are developed to reduce fatalities and the property damage associated with motor vehicle crashes.”

NHTSA submitted a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS), which “provides sample-based data on fatal, serious injury, and property-damage-only (PDO) crashes that helps users understand highway safety problem areas, develop countermeasures, and identify general data trends.”

To see the full document and submit a comment, click here.

U.S. Department of Labor Makes Announcement on Apprenticeship Expansion

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will be expanding apprenticeships in the U.S. The DOL submitted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “that would establish a process for the U.S. Department of Labor to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs).”

To view the news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, click here.

To view the NPRM, click here.

 

U.S. House Subcommittee holds Hearing on Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards

This week the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change held a joint hearing entitled “Driving in Reverse: The Administration’s Rollback of Fuel Economy and Clean Car Standards.” In an effort to combat climate change, remain competitive globally in the automotive industry, improve air quality standards, and keep jobs for American’s, the subcommittees explored the Administration’s proposed roll back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for Model Year (MY) 2021-2026 light-duty cars and trucks.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to establish Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks to reduce fuel consumption and encourage Americans to invest in clean, more efficient vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for vehicles under the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA). Additionally, under the same law, the EPA may grant waivers of preemption that would allow a state to implement its own standards, as it has done with California many times. Due to overlap, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would be working together to standardize CAFE and GHG standards, as well as California standards, rather than automakers adhering to a patchwork of regulations.

Under the Administration, the EPA and NHTSA announced they would reconsider the final decision from 2017 for CAFE and GHG standards. In 2018 the agencies submitted a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for MY 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, that would maintain current standards through MY 2020 but would freeze the standard after that and withdraw California’s waiver. Subcommittee members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns regarding the rollback arguing that the rule would eliminate approximately 60,000 jobs from the automotive industry, CO2 emissions, gasoline and oil consumption would increase, ultimately decreasing the quality of air for Americans, increasing the number of auto-related deaths per year, and costing consumers more money. Representatives from NHTSA and the EPA did not agree.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable William L. Wehrum, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

  • Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

 

  • The Honorable Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board

 

  • David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy, Consumer Reports

 

  • Ramzi Y. Hermiz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Shiloh Industries, Inc.

 

  • Josh Nassar, Legislative Director, United Auto Worker

 

  • The Honorable Jeff Landry, Attorney General, State of Louisiana

 

  • David Schwietert, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

 

  • Nick Loris, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe institute for Economic Policy; Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy, Heritage Foundation

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

Louisiana Legislature Passes Shop Choice Bill

State Representative Terry Landry (D-96) introduced House Bill 411, which changes current restrictions on insurance companies directing consumers to specific motor vehicle repair shops. Current law prohibits an insurer from requiring an insured to use a particular place or shop as a condition when making a payment incident to a claim, while the proposed law allows the insurer to provide options for consumers when selecting a motor vehicle repair shop. Insurers must inform consumers that they are not required to use the recommended repair facility. The legislation was introduced on March 29, 2019 and passed the Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate. The bill has been signed by the Governor and will go into effect on August 1, 2019. The Louisiana Legislature ended their regular legislative session on June 6, 2019.

OEM Repair Procedures Bill Introduced in New York

On May 31, 2019, Assembly Bill 8050 was introduced in the New York General Assembly, which requires compliance with collision repair guidelines and service bulletins issued by vehicle or original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and forbids insurance companies from requiring repair shops to deviate from those guidelines without the written consent of the vehicle owner. Additionally, if an OEM repair procedure requires scans or a diagnostic test of the vehicle, it will be considered as part of the repair procedure.

ASA supports OEM repair procedure legislation and AB 8050. Following OEM repair procedure guidelines not only ensures that the vehicle is being repaired efficiently but ensures the best opportunity for safety for the motoring public. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly’s Insurance Committee.

To read more about the bill, click here.

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