ST. PAUL, MN—The Minnesota House suspended the rules Monday to take up and pass legislation authored by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, Chair of the House Transportation Committee, to provide $10 million in funding to continue fixes and bolster accountability for the troubled Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). The bill passed the House on an overwhelming 98-27 bipartisan vote.
A separate version passed the Senate earlier in the day. The Senate can either vote to concur and send the amended bill to the governor, or vote to send it to conference committee.
"This bill provides the accountability and reforms Minnesotans are demanding while providing funding needed to continue fixing the MNLARS mess created by Governor Dayton's administration," Rep. Torkelson said. "I plan to work quickly with our counterparts in the Senate to reach a final agreement we can send to the governor. We believe it's imperative for the governor to back up his desire to take responsibility for this mess with meaningful action—this bill will allow him to do that."
Chair Torkelson's bill 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 meaningful accountability measures and detailed spending plans. Torkelson's bill requires the Commissioners of Management and Budget (MMB), Department of Public Safety (DPS), and MN.IT to develop a project schedule and performance metrics within three weeks of enactment, along with monthly progress reports signed by each commissioner. The House version would ensure that performance metrics and a project schedule are in place well before the legislature votes on additional MNLARS funding.
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, as well as a requirement that 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.
The House rejected an amendment by an overwhelming 8-117 vote to include the Governor's $2 MNLARS fee as proposed in his supplemental budget.
The Senate remains and recess and could vote on the amended bill later today.