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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dear Friends,

Help for the beleaguered MNLARS system is on the way as the both the House and Senate approved legislation this week that provides for $10 million in emergency funding in addition to increased transparency and performance metrics.

At the start of the week, both the House and Senate passed separate versions of a MNLARS fix bill. While both pieces of legislation shared the same end goal, they went about it in different ways.

The initial Senate version allocated the nearly $10 million in emergency funding from the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) Special Revenue Fund. Their bill did not require any sort of backfilling to replenish the $10 million taken from the DVS account. Furthermore, the accountability measures would only apply to future funds allocated by the legislature to MNLARS.

The House version that we passed on Monday provided the $10 million from the same DVS Special Revenue Fund, but required Governor Dayton to backfill the funding by reducing expenditures in his executive agency budgets by $10 million.

Additionally, our version of the bill included a number of transparency measures and performance metrics. One such performance metric required the Commissioners of MMB, DPS, and MN. IT to develop a project schedule and performance metrics and submit them to the Legislature within 21 days of enactment. Following that, they would be required to send monthly progress reports to the Legislature.

I was proud to support the House bill and it passed with overwhelmingly bi-partisan support on a vote of 98-27.

However, despite the broad bipartisan support for the House bill, Governor Dayton signaled earlier in the week that he would veto our bill because it would require his own executive agencies to cover the $10 million in funding.

Minnesota wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t poor management and communication from the Governor’s office. Thus, it only made sense that we require the $10 million in emergency funding come from his own agencies, not from the taxpayer.

Since the Senate and House each passed a different bill, we were required to open up a conference committee to work out the differences in legislation and reach agreement between the two bodies.

On Thursday, both the House and Senate approved a compromise version of this bill. Included in the bill was the same $10 million in emergency funding. However, the Senate would not agree to require the Governor to backfill the funding. Despite this disappointment, the bill still retains a number of transparency measures and performance standards. The bill included $350,000 for the office of legislative auditor to monitor the expenditure and assure the legislature and tax payers on every dollar spent solves the MNLARS disaster.

At the end of the day, I’m glad that help is on the way for Minnesotans. The final bill isn’t perfect and I wish we could have stuck with the original House bill, but I am nevertheless hopeful that we can put this ordeal behind us soon.

As always, if you have any questions regarding this legislation or any other matter of state government, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I can be contacted by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email atrep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Thank you and have a great weekend,

Glenn

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