Members of a joint Maine committee asked several questions on Tuesday related to a proposed bill that was initially intended to compete with the “right to repair” ballot question that voters approved in November. Now, lawmakers are considering how the two could coincide.
A Maine legislature staff bill analyst gave the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business an overview of how the two pieces of legislation compare:
- Vehicle weight: The definition of “automobile” in LD 1911 does not include vehicles over 14,000 pounds whereas the current law does.
- Telematic services: LD 1911 uses the term while the current law uses “telematic system,” but “both definitions refer to vehicle technology that collects information and transmits it using wireless communication,” the analyst said.
- Telematic services classification: LD 1911 provides a list of specific services that are classified as “telematic services” whereas the current law doesn’t specify.
- LD 1911, subsection 1824 is nearly identical to the scope of the current law except it includes dealers. Current law stipulates only authorized repair shops.
- Complaint process: LD 1911 provides repair facilities or owners the ability to initiate a complaint and go through the process whereas current law allocates the process to the independent entity as defined in subsection 1810, section 2.
- Subsections included in LD 1911 and not in current law: Subsection 1826, “customer service campaigns and recalls;” subsection 1828, “applicability to mobile communications,” and subsection 1829, “interpretation.
- LD 1911 also defines dealer diagnostic and repair information, franchise agreement, immobilizer system, and independent repair facility manufacturer and owner while current law does not provide those definitions.
- LD 1911 doesn’t require the state to be responsible for the data collected.
LD 1677 would allow open third-party bidirectional access to telematics-equipped vehicles, according to Auto Innovators. It contends independent repairers and vehicle owners already have access to data necessary to repair vehicles while the Maine Right to Repair Coalition believes the opposite, and helped draft and pass LD 1677.
The referendum was the result of a petition in support of a standardized access platform circulated by the Maine Right to Repair Coalition in 2022. The coalition chose to bypass the legislature. Instead, it applied for a citizens’ initiative and a draft of proposed legislation with Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in August 2022. She approved the petition later that year, in October.
Committee members asked wanted to know on Tuesday whether remote access is allowed and if there would be a large legal ramification between making information available to dealers versus authorized repair shops.
They also wanted to know if LD 1911 passes whether there would be any conflicts of law between it and current law, as approved through LD 1677, and what legal ramifications of both could be avoided per what’s been brought forth in court throughout the Massachusetts case.
Following the 2020 passage of the Data Access Law in Massachusetts, there has been an ongoing debate in court between Auto Innovators and the Attorney General’s Office as to whether a standardized on-board diagnostic system is possible and if the law should be enforced. AG Andrea Campbell began enforcing the law on June 1, 2023, ending an agreement between the previous AG and Auto Innovators to hold off on enforcement until the lawsuit was resolved.
The Maine committee members asked how the current law impacts interstate commerce laws and want a clear definition of what telematics means; specifically, whether it’s access to what a vehicle is doing in real time, or a record of what a vehicle has done in certain conditions.
The analyst said she would research the questions and bring answers back to the committee. A committee vote on the bill was tabled.
Featured image: Inside the Maine State Capitol Building in Augusta, Maine. (Credit: Ray Tan/iStock)