Governor Signs Bill to Fix MNLARS

The legislation funds efforts to fix the flawed licensing and registration system but does not provide needed reimbursement for related losses experienced by deputy registrars, some of which are operated by cities.
(Published Mar 11, 2019)

The legislation funds efforts to fix the flawed licensing and registration system but does not provide needed reimbursement for related losses experienced by deputy registrars, some of which are operated by cities.

The first bill signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz appropriates funds efforts to continue correcting problems with the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), but it fails to compensate non-state deputy registrars for financial losses related to the flawed rollout of the system.

Chapter 1 (HF 861, Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul)/SF 1092, Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) was signed into law on March 5 and became effective March 6. Passage of the bill was expedited by Gov. Walz and legislative leaders in order to avoid a potential loss of state contracts related to improvements being made to MNLARS.

It appropriates general funds in 2019 as follows:

  • $11.2 million for ongoing MNLARS motor vehicle software work (including contracting and equipment costs).
  • $2 million for deficiency funding for the Driver and Vehicle Services Division.

The bill also requires progress reports to the MNLARS Steering Committee (which was established in 2018 as part of MNLARS supplemental funding legislation).

Reimbursement provision removed

The chapter does not include a key provision supported by the League: reimbursement to deputy registrars for losses related to the flawed rollout of MNLARS. Many deputy registrar offices are operated by local units of government, including 36 in cities. The reimbursement piece had been included in the House measure, but it was removed from the bill when the Senate amended its own language onto SF 861 before passing the bill by a vote of 52-12.

The Senate Transportation Committee on March 6 heard and passed a bill that allocates $10 million for costs incurred by deputy registrars. The measure, SF 621 (Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault), is awaiting a hearing in the Finance Committee. The House companion, HF 621 (Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska) is awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division.

For more background information about this topic, read a previous Cities Bulletin article.

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