Legislation that addresses the failure of Minnesota’s new licensing and vehicle registration system known as MNLARS passed both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate on Thursday. The measure now awaits the approval of Governor Dayton. The legislation, authored by Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), appropriates $9.65 million from the driver and vehicle services dedicated revenue fund for immediate I.T.-related costs and includes sweeping oversight requirements.
“There is no question that MNLARS must be fixed and now is a time to look forward. This bipartisan bill will allow the legislature to keep a watchful eye on the administration’s continued development of the software to make sure this disaster does not repeat itself,” said Senator Newman, chairman of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.
Despite a decade of planning and over $93 million, MNLARS was rolled out last July with widespread problems – issues that largely remain. The bill requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Minnesota IT Services (MN.IT) officials to submit a proposed timeline, including quarterly benchmarks, for a fully-functional program to the MNLARS Steering Committee by May 1. The oversight measures also include quarterly reporting from the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor and a mechanism for the legislature to cut off funding if development benchmarks are not met.
“The funding approved today is only temporary and I expect the governor to sign this into law,” Senator Newman continued. “In the coming weeks, we will examine long-term fixes and ways to make things right with the deputy registrars, auto dealers, and consumers across the state that have experienced significant hardship for months because of this mess.”
Senator Scott Newman is in his third term representing Senate District 18, which includes communities in McLeod, Meeker, Sibley, and Wright counties. He also serves as chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.
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