The Senate resoundingly rejected last week a bill that would have raised vehicle inspection costs and given the Maine State Police (MSP) the authority to create an electronic surveillance system to track vehicle inspections.
Following the House’s approval of the measure, the Senate defeated the legislation Friday in a 30-2 roll call vote.
Sen. Brad Farrin (R-Somerset) and Sen. Matthew Pouliot (R-Kennebec) were the only two legislators in the Senate who expressed support for the measure.
Under the original draft of the bill, introduced by Rep. Bruce White (D-Waterville), participation in the program would be voluntary for mechanics, but it was later amended to make the use of electronic inspections mandatory.
That means mechanics would have been forced to report details of auto inspections to the state. Those details would have then followed the vehicle regardless of which mechanic it was brought to.
The amendment also included a set fee increase from $12.50 to $20.00.
Rep. White testified back in April that the bill would help improve efficiency within the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit and “ease this burden on the staff that are responsible for processing these orders.”
White also argued that the bill would “reduce the opportunity for illegal inspection stickers being created by those acting in bad faith which is a significant public safety risk for millions of motorists who travel on Maine roads.”
Jacob Posik, communications director at the Maine Policy Institute, argued that Maine’s vehicle inspection program ought to be abolished altogether.
“Maine’s vehicle inspection program has long outlived its usefulness, which makes it even more troubling that lawmakers want to raise fees for inspections on Mainers during this time of persistent inflation and economic uncertainty,” said Posik.
“A digital record would be made and kept in a database maintained by the State Police, putting pressure on mechanics to force Mainers to pay for services requested by other mechanics, even if they disagree with that assessment, in fear of losing their license to inspect vehicles,” he said.
The amended version of the bill also raised questions about how the data would be used once it was collected, as well as whether it would be publicly accessible under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
Disclosure: The Maine Wire is a project of the Maine Policy Institute.