Maine Lawmakers Squander Opportunity to Ease Vehicle Inspection Requirements
In 1994, Maine rolled out the United States Emissions Test, a program that failed so significantly that the New York Times labeled it “a flop” and lambasted it to millions of readers across the country. It took only two months of public pressure for Augusta to cave to public pressure and close down the program.
Now, 25 years after the failed emissions testing stations, Maine is refusing to give up another failed and unnecessary program, the inspection sticker.
Like the emissions stations, inspections stickers are expensive, unnecessary, and have a disproportionately negative effect on the poor. Even for the wealthy, it is an unnecessary expense and there is an additional time cost for a program that does not add value.
Like the emissions testing, Mainers’ are fed up. It is not uncommon for nonviolent protest to occur as citizens attempt to avoid inspections with fake stickers or simply refusing to update their inspection paperwork. The biggest problem with these protests is that they are not yet coordinated. The rest of us sit and grumble as we pay the inspection fee, or the ticket for forgetting to renew our inspections, or the mechanic for the thousands of dollars of repairs to a car that had run perfectly until it arrived at the shop for inspection.
As has become commonplace, the legislators in Augusta are out of touch. On April 4, 2019 the Transportation Committee unanimously rejected a measure that would have eliminated the annual inspection sticker. Getting rid of this program would have left $3.5 Million in Mainer’s pockets. Instead, Augusta will continue to take that money from you for the foreseeable future.
It is not just the $24 inspection charge that impacts Mainers. The current system forces all citizens to report annually to their nearest mechanic who has every incentive to find problems with your vehicle. They have a captive audience and, while not every mechanic goes out of their way to charge you more, this means huge bills for families who cannot afford to pay. Additional state imposed costs to families who are trying to rise into and above the middle class is one of the reasons Maine is failing.
The largest lobbying group against the elimination of car inspections was the Maine State Police. Not surprisingly, the state police are protecting a valuable revenue stream — money taken through tickets given to those with out of date or invalid inspection stickers.
If we want a safer Maine, a more prosperous Maine, and a better Maine for ALL people — that starts with learning from the past. It took us as citizens just 2 months to shut down the emissions testing stations through our outrage: let your representative know it is time for annual inspections, and their unfair costs, to end.