Last week, I helped tackle Questions 5-8 that Maine voters will be asked to vote on this November, and this week I’ll share some thoughts to consider on Questions 1-4. The questions last week were all proposed Maine state Constitution amendments and likely won’t get the exposure of Questions 1-4. If you didn’t see it, I strongly urge you to take a look.

Before we dive in this week, I need to share that I’m not wild about so many issues going to the Maine voters for our approval. We elect legislators to get informed on these topics and make the decisions that are the best for Mainers. We have eight separate questions that Mainers need to become knowledgeable about, in an off-year election — that feels like too much. Don’t get me wrong, going to Maine voters on one or two key issues every year seems perfectly reasonable for the largest issues, yet this is more than that.

We’re asking Maine voters to develop expertise about:
• The referendum petition process (Questions 5 and 7).
• Election eligibility for voters under guardianship for reasons of mental illness (Question 8).
• A niche constitutional procedure that Maine tribal leaders seem passionate about, which would overturn a vote from 1874 even though the wording of the question doesn’t adequately illustrate that at all (Question 6).
• A business debate on what is intellectual property vs. open-use technology when it comes to right to repair (Question 4).
• Ownership of utility-transmission companies by means of forced buyouts (Question 3), and two additional questions that either support or reject the premise of Question 3 (Question 1 and 2)

That’s a lot. Imagine the average Maine voter — probably mid-40s, hard worker, has a kid or two, doesn’t have time to watch the news or read the newspaper daily. Do you think they have the time to get as knowledgeable as they need to be in order to make these informed decisions? Or are they more likely to see a few commercials, not have time to dig into how much those commercials exaggerate one side of an issue or another, and then base their vote on preconceived notions about what they think the question is all about?

We’re putting a lot of pressure and belief in Mainers to take the time to get wise on these issues before Nov. 7. If the Legislature insists that Maine voters need to be the decision makers on eight separate issues, then in good conscience, I feel like it’s my duty to focus on these issues for the next eight weeks.

With that, these seemingly four citizen initiative questions are really only two issues as Questions 1, 2 and 3 all grew out of the same issue, while Question 4 is unique unto itself. Let’s start with the right-to-repair bill.


Question 4 is an ideal topic for a committee to tackle while bringing in experts from both the dealerships and the independent garages to state their cases. Unfortunately, we have bypassed that in order to bring this to the voters directly. This right-to-repair question has to do with on-board diagnostic systems requiring vehicle manufacturers to standardize the systems so independent repair facilities can diagnose the problems.

It seems straightforward, but I have a number of questions. Does this limit which vehicles can be sold in Maine if vehicle manufacturers don’t meet these standards? What does this do to proprietary technology for manufacturers; do they have to now release all of their technological advances so other manufacturers can now copy their hard work? How are we securing the data that third-party independent garages will have access to?

I will say it seems like this one will pass. The yes-on-4 side is supported by a group called the “Right to Repair Coalition,” and they’ve raised $1.9 million (according to Ballotpedia). The opposition group is called “Alliance for Automotive Innovation,” and they’ve raised zero dollars for no on 4. If only one side is running commercials, the outcome to this question isn’t really in doubt. According to Ballotpedia, the only state whose voters have passed right-to-repair laws is Massachusetts. A federal law was introduced in 2021 but has yet to pass. According to The Repair Association, bills have been introduced in numerous states.

Finally, we come to Pine Tree Power, which is the much-discussed proposal for government-controlled utility distribution, which would require a forced buyout of Central Maine Power and Versant Power so that an elected board and their appointees can be in charge of Maine’s electoral utility distribution. With only two paragraphs left, I’ll be tackling this complicated issue in depth in the final part of this three-part series next week.

However, two key points to know before next week. First off is the Office of the Public Advocate (, a state entity that has the job of representing “Maine utility consumers in any matter that is covered by the authority of the Public Utilities Commission.” It’s impartial, and on its website there is a seven-page document called “Pine Tree Power Fact Sheet.” In my opinion, it’s the most down-the-middle assessment of the proposal that you will be asked about in Question 3. Take a look at it before next week (we also will have a link on the chamber website at

Secondly, Question 1 was created in opposition to Question 3 as the state would need to borrow well over $1 billion should Question 3 pass ($5-$13 billion is the range the two sides are disputing). Question 2 was created because proponents of Question 3 don’t want to let CMP have a say in Maine ballot initiatives because they’re owned internationally. However, with globalization, Question 2 affects many more businesses than just CMP, including Canadian companies, U.S. employers who have headquarters overseas and more. We will get into all of that next week.

Cory King is executive director of the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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