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ST. PAUL, MN—A bill to continue fixes and bolster accountability for the troubled Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) passed its first committee hurdle Tuesday with bipartisan support in the House Transportation Finance Committee. Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, Chair of the House Select Committee on Technology and Responsive Government, presented the bill on behalf of Rep. Torkelson.
"Minnesotans deserve a DMV system that works, but are also demanding that we hold the governor accountable for the complete mismanagement of this project," Rep. Baker said. "We will continue working with the administration to ensure that fixes continue, but we expect the governor to back up his stated desire to take responsibility with meaningful action. This bill accomplishes both of those goals."
HF3147, Chief Authored by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, Chair of the House Transportation Committee, would authorize a $10 million transfer from the Department of Vehicle Services Special Revenue fund, and require the Governor to backfill the full $10 million by reducing agency operating budgets.
In response to significant public outcry about the MNLARS fiasco, House Republicans are pushing for accountability measures and detailed spending plans. HF3147 requires the Commissioners of Management and Budget (MMB), Department of Public Safety (DPS), and MN.IT to develop a project schedule and performance metrics to be submitted to the legislature, along with monthly progress reports signed by each commissioner.
The bill also includes a provision first introduced by Rep. Regina Barr, R-Inver Grove Heights, directing DPS to issue a request for information to explore whether an outside private vendor is a better financial option that fixing the current system. The bill also requires the Dayton administration to request an extension to the October 10, 2018 REAL ID deadline from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure Minnesotans can continue boarding airplanes and entering federal buildings using their current ID cards.
A DFL-backed amendment to provide the $10 million with no increased accountability or oversight was voted down by the committee.
Earlier on Tuesday, Governor Dayton objected to the approach in HF3147, stating he would not "cannibalize" state government to pay for the first $10 million for MNLARS fixes. Last session, the Governor signed into law a state budget for the next two years totaling more than $46 billion dollars.
"With this bill, the governor would have more than three full months to identify savings in his executive agencies to backfill this $10 million transfer. If the governor is unwilling to do so, he should tell Minnesotans what other actions he will take to fulfill his promise to 'take full responsibility' for this disaster," Rep. Baker concluded.
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