Most of our time in the House is still being spent in committee meetings at this point in the 2019 session as we put proposals through the process and prepare them for the floor and votes of the full House.
I mentioned last week that a bill I have authored to help develop the Fergus Falls riverfront corridor by adding features such as a farmer’s market and amphitheater. That bill had a second hearing this week and it is alive and well, still in the mix for potential passage later this session.
Another bill of mine which allows Perham to adopt a sales tax voters in that town approved has made its necessary preliminary progress and is on standby, awaiting inclusion in a larger package of tax-related provisions.
One of the biggest items we addressed in the House chamber this week pertains to our faltering driver’s license and registration system (MNLARS). The bill provides around $13 million total ($5.7 million to continue work on MNLARS, $5.5 million for Phase 2 of the FAST Drivers Licensing System, and $2 million for additional staffing at the Department of Public Safety Department of Vehicle Services division.
What the bill does not provide is more funding to provide relief to Minnesotans who run the local DMV offices. These people have been delivering services but are not responsible for turmoil the state’s failures have caused. Yet, they have been the ones on the front lines facing frustrated citizens and fielding complaints. We have heard stories about the stress this is causing staff and this is undeserved.
These deputy registrars need to be made financially whole for the state burdens they have taken on, but House Democrats refused to provide relief. Because of that, and the fact there is no guarantee the $13 million will produce positive results, I voted against the bill. House Democrats went ahead and voted to send the bill to the governor on a party-line vote.
On a final note, I look forward to seeing Ethan Siira of Perham at the Capitol next week (March 11-15) as he serves in the House’s High School Page Program for juniors. The application process is closed for the current session and I urge sophomores to think about applying when they return to school next fall as juniors. I’ll also circle back with a reminder in the fall.
For now, click here for a link to more about this program. High schools also can share information as needed. Please help spread the word so we can make sure District 8A is represented well in the page program during the 2020 session.