AUGUSTA, Maine — An effort to raise vehicle inspection fees in Maine to fund an electronic inspection system favored by state police is effectively dead after the Senate resoundingly defeated it Friday.

The bill from Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, would set a maximum inspection fee of $20, up from the current fee of $12.50 in all counties except Cumberland, where the inspection and a required emissions test cost $18.50.

After the House narrowly approved it Thursday in a 74-68 vote, the Senate quashed it Friday by a 30-2 margin. The two Republican senators who supported the bill were Brad Farrin of Norridgewock, who serves on the transportation panel, and Matt Pouliot of Augusta. It faces further votes, but the margin virtually guarantees it will go no further.

Maine is among 15 states that require state inspections, according to the conservative Maine Policy Institute. But it is the last state in New England and one of three across the country to rely on a system that requires the Maine State Police to track more than 1 million stickers per year on paper rather than with an electronic system.

A similar proposal last year to double the inspection fee to fund an electronic system was halted due to a veto threat from Gov. Janet Mills during the 2022 campaign.

White had amended the bill this year in hopes of gaining support from lawmakers and Mills, after the initial proposal would have doubled the fee to $25 and not required the Maine State Police to use the electronic system. That lack of a requirement concerned the administration.

The bipartisan array of supporters and Maine State Police said an electronic system would help simplify work for inspectors, reduce fraud and save about $100,000 a year in postage costs. State police oversee the system that includes 2,600 inspection stations and 8,000 technicians.

White said Friday he was disappointed in the Senate vote but optimistic about the electronic system one day becoming a reality.

“I firmly believe this will happen, but it wasn’t the time just yet,” White said.

Rep. Wayne Parry, R-Arundel, who voted for the bill and worked on it in the transportation committee, noted in House debate that the state’s vehicle inspection fee has not increased in about two decades, something that could lead them to more aggressively look for issues to fix.

“We don’t want garages to find problems,” Parry said. “We should at least cover their cost of labor to do inspections.”

The mix of Republicans and Democrats opposing the bill made economic and privacy arguments. Some of them claimed that the state police would be able to access personal data on drivers, something that Parry said the Maine State Police informed lawmakers was not true.

Rep. Sophie Warren, D-Scarborough, said while she supports reforming the inspection system, increasing fees would mostly hurt “poor and working people.”

Billy Kobin is a politics reporter who joined the Bangor Daily News in 2023. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked at The Indianapolis Star and The Courier Journal (Louisville, Ky.) after graduating...