By Seth Maimen
Maine citizens voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to pass a Right to Repair legislative initiative in the Pine Tree state’s elections.
The Maine Right to Repair initiative is very similar to one approved by Massachusetts voters, also by a large margin, in 2020.
The Maine campaign was fought by many of the same groups that competed three years ago in Massachusetts with the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality, representing the automotive aftermarket, leading the charge in support against the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a manufacturer’s group. Right to Repair proponents had gathered 74,686 signatures to place the measure on the ballot, well more than the 7,000 required to “initiate” a bill to the voters under the Maine process.
Maine will require manufacturers to equip vehicles with an interactive telematics system. The Maine Attorney General will create an independent entity to oversee access to vehicle-generated data and put certain requirements on manufacturers to release diagnostic repair tools, parts, software, and components for previous model years, differentiating between pre-2002, 2002-2017, and 2018 to present.
The Auto Glass Safety Council supported the Maine initiative, as it had done in Massachusetts, saying that competition ensured that by allowing independent shops access to vehicles’ essential information promotes safety in the auto glass services marketplace.
The Maine initiative requires motor vehicle manufacturers to standardize the vehicle on-board diagnostic systems and make those systems accessible to owners and independent repair facilities.
The state’s new independent entity will administer the accessibility of the systems by adopting standards and developing policies. Certain diagnostic tools, parts, software, and components will be required to be released, and vehicles will be required to be equipped with a standard access platform, allowing for exclusions, if necessary, for immobilizer systems or security-related modules.
The Massachusetts law has been the subject of a pending federal lawsuit brought by the manufacturers’ group for several years, but despite that, a decision has not been made. The state declared earlier this year that it will begin enforcing the voter-passed law.
The lawsuit has become a political football, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first saying that the manufacturers did not have to comply due to federal preemption and for security reasons but then reversed itself after pressure brought by the state’s U.S. Senators.