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Federal Trade Commission Hosts Workshop on Repair Restrictions

Shops Have Opportunity to Submit Related Comments to FTC

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a federal agency that aims to protect consumers and “competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” On July 16, 2019 at 9:00 am, the FTC will be hosting a workshop titled “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions,” specifically examining how manufacturers may limit third-party repairs and if those limitations impact consumer protection.

The FTC has reached out to industry groups and requested that repairers assist their efforts to determine issues relative to manufacturer restrictions on repair shops.

Currently, FTC staff is asking for empirical research and data in response to the following questions:

  • The prevalence of the certain types of repair restrictions
  • The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
  • The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  • The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  • The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  • Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  • The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
  • Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

The deadline to submit information is April 30, 2019. Information on how to submit research and a presentation can be found here.

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18 Days Left to Apply for the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program

In 2017 President Trump enacted the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act). The act requires the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary to create a program that “recognizes employers of all sizes for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans.” The program is called the HIRE Vets Medallion Award program, and employers who have met the criteria can apply to receive an award for their efforts of supporting veterans in long-lasting, meaningful careers. The award is based off a number of criteria, including veteran hiring and retention, providing veteran-specific resources, leadership programming, dedicated human resources, and compensation and tuition assistance programs. The award indicates to veterans and communities which organizations are committed to and support veteran careers.

 

To learn more about the program, click here.

 

To apply for the program, click here.

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Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Causes Quarrel in Congress

The Internal Revenue Code Section 30D establishes an electric vehicle (EV) tax credit as an incentive for consumers to buy and own qualified electric vehicles. The claimed credit can be up to $7,500 and is based on the EV’s car battery size. However, these EV tax credits will eventually run out. The federal government is looking at phasing out these tax credits and while there is no set expiration date, that process has already started. Once a manufacturer sells 200,000 qualified EV’s in the United States, the amount a consumer is eligible for receiving decreases. Tesla was the first automaker to hit the 200,000 threshold in July 2018. Due to hitting the mark, consumers that buy Tesla EV’s after December 31, 2019 will not be eligible for a federal EV tax credit.

The debate surrounding this EV tax credit has found itself on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress. In the U.S. Senate, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peter (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), introduced S. 1094, the Driving America Forward Act. This bipartisan legislation seeks to raise the 200,000 vehicles’ cap to 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer. The legislation also extends the hydrogen fuel cell credit for ten years. Sponsors of the bill argue that this will be a step forward in cleaner transportation, combatting climate change, and support American job growth. In the U.S. House of Representatives, democrats are urging for increasing the 200,000-vehicle cap as well. Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), introduced H.R. 2096, with the purpose of amending “the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax credits for energy storage technologies, and for other purposes.” While this bill addresses numerous clean energy pushes, the bill also encourages revision and continuation of the EV federal tax credit.

Opposition to the bill in both chambers can be seen from Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and, in the House, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO). These two Members have introduced similar versions of the same bill that seeks to eliminate the EV federal tax credit and impose a federal highway user fee on alternative fuel vehicles. Senator Barrasso believes that with the termination of this tax credit, there will be billions in taxpayers funds saved and will “strengthen the Highway Trust Fund by ensuring that alternative fuel vehicle drivers pay into it.” Similarly, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) believes that “the EV federal tax credit has benefited the wealthy… [and that it’s] time to end this wasteful subsidy.”

As of now, numerous organizations and automakers support the Driving America Forward Act and believe that this legislation and the continuation of the federal EV tax credit will not only benefit the environment in an effort to reduce the total output of CO2 emissions, but also remain an incentive for consumers to purchase EV’s in the future.

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