AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine vanity license plates with expletives and other language some may find offensive are coming under fire from some residents and lawmakers, but the secretary of state says such plates are protected by free speech rights.

The Portland Press Herald reports Maine stopped screening vanity license plate requests in 2015. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says now only plates deemed likely to incite violence or that have things like racial slurs or Nazi slogans are rejected or recalled.

Dunlap says his office receives a "steady drumbeat of complaints," but doesn't believe the state's previous screening process could withstand free speech lawsuits.

Two state senators planned to submit bills on the issue, but the Legislative Council voted Wednesday against accepting either bill for the January session. The lawmakers say they may try to raise the issue again.

More From