House, Senate Pass Differing $10 Million Plans to Fix MNLARS

March 19, 2018 07:35 PM

The Minnesota House and Senate passed separate bills Monday to fund about $10 million to continue work fixing the state's new license and registration system, MNLARS. The Senate bill passed on a bipartisan 47-20 vote. The House vote was 98-27.

The $93-million system that took a decade to plan was rolled out in July and has been plagued by problems. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety is asking for another $43 million to fix those problems, including backlogs that have frustrated drivers.

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"I can tell you that I'm totally unwilling to provide any further money to MNIT or DPS (Department of Public Safety) if they are able to spend that money unfettered," said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, author of the Senate bill.

It provides $10 million in existing funds from the driver and vehicle services budget. The bill also creates accountability measures, including a legislative advisory commissioner to oversee how the money is spent and requires quarterly reports from the legislative auditor.

But some Democrats say Republicans are going too far in trying to micromanage the MNLARS system.

"I don't question Sen. Newman that you're trying to fix this, but this bill falls short," said Sen. Melissa Franzen, DFL-Edina. "I feel like we're holding MNLARS hostage by not letting the experts tell us what they need and how to do it."

A couple hours later the Minnesota House passed its own MNLARS bill that would require Governor Dayton's administration to find $10 million in savings elsewhere in the executive branch to fund the work. A conference committee will have to be formed to work out a compromise on the two bills.

Passage of the bills come more than two weeks after the state started sending out layoff notices to information technology contractors working on MNLARS.

Sen. Scott Newman chairs the Senate's Transportation Committee. Newman says he's confident the two sides can come to a quick agreement.

RELATED: Official who Led State's Troubled Licensing System is Fired

 

RELATED: MNLARS Funding Clears Hurdle But Strings Attached

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