Jacob Sirois works on a Ford F150 at Jason’s Auto Service in Hollis in Oct. 2023. Sirois has worked at the shop for about a year and has been working on cars for almost 15 years. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Lawmakers are considering sweeping changes to Maine’s new Automotive Right to Repair law, two months after voters overwhelmingly approved it in a state referendum.

The amendments, contained in a bill introduced before the referendum, would do away with key pieces of the law that right to repair advocates believe are needed to support independent mechanics.

But legislators say they are concerned that the law in its current form puts consumers’ privacy and safety at risk, and opens the state up for litigation.

“Data, as we have learned, is a great source of money. My nightmare is that we’re selling that data,” said Sen. Chip Curry, D-Waldo. “It’s my data, I don’t want you selling it.”

An Act Regarding Automotive Right to Repair would require car manufacturers to share access to advanced repair data with car owners and independent repair shops. Independent mechanics say car manufacturers withhold a lot of this data – and that when data is released, it can only be accessed on cost-prohibitive programs.

The Maine Right to Repair Coalition’s ballot initiative was approved by 84% of voters in November 2023. It will come in two phases. On Jan. 5, car manufacturers were required to make all of this data accessible. A year from now, the Maine attorney general must have a cyber-secure database up and running that compiles the advanced diagnostic repair data from all manufacturers. The attorney general will also need to create an independent oversight board to ensure car manufacturers are sharing that data.


That second phase concerns lawmakers. Ahead of the 2023 referendum vote, state Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, introduced a bill that would similarly require car manufacturers to make that data available for purchase by independent repair shops, but without a standardized database platform and independent entity overseeing the process. The bill was carried over at the end of last year’s legislative session after coming up against time constraints.

The bill is now back on the table in the Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business Committee, known as the IDEA Committee, which held a work session on the bill Friday morning. With amendments introduced by Rep. Amanda Collamore, R-Pittsfield, the bill is effectively a rewrite of the existing right to repair law, without the requirements for an independent oversight entity, a standardized database platform, and equipment to track repair data going into the standardized platform that car manufacturers would need to install in cars sold in Maine moving forward.

Lawmakers cite a handful of reasons for the rewrite.

Some are concerned that the bill could put the state at risk for litigation. The major auto manufacturer trade group, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, sued the state of Massachusetts three weeks after voters passed a similar initiative there in 2020 – a spokesperson for the alliance said there were no updates on the litigation in early January.

Collamore said her amendments stem from concerns about consumers’ right to privacy. She doesn’t like the idea of an independent entity having access to her personal information through the standardized database – though the existing law does limit access to repair and mechanical data.

“My private information should stay with manufacturers as recommended by the federal entities because they already have access to it when I purchased the vehicle anyway,” Collamore said.


She is also dubious about the practicality of the independent entity, in terms of its membership and funding needs.

Curry, chair of the IDEA Committee, is worried that members of this entity could use the database for their gains. The law stipulates that the entity will have members from different parts of the automotive world.

“All those entities that are on that board are in the business of monetizing,” Curry said.

Wayne Weikel, a spokesperson with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, attended the work session to raise similar concerns.

“These changes made do seem to address the concerns of there being a third party entity that now has access and control of everyone’s vehicle while still preserving the sections that relate to making sure that repairers … have access to that information,” Weikel said.

It’s not unusual for lawmakers to amend laws passed through referendum. However, the Maine Right to Repair Coalition believes the bill will “gut” the protections and impacts that the current law offers.

“White’s bill would allow automakers and their dealers in Maine to create a monopoly on automotive repairs by severely restricting access to mechanical information and data needed by independent repair shops to fix the cars of their customers,” the coalition said in a statement.

Lawmakers on the IDEA Committee will continue these discussions in a future work session.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.