This week marks the halfway point in the legislative session (if you factor in the upcoming Easter/Passover break) and Gov. Tim Walz’s first opportunity to sign legislation into law.
He signed a bill providing additional funding to correct chronic problems with the state’s now 2-year-old “new” vehicle registration system (MNLARS). The bill provided $12.3 million in additional funding, of which $5.5 million will repay money the agency had to borrow from the account supporting changes to the driver’s license system software, the remaining $6.8 million goes to fix a still-cranky vehicle registration system.
Despite trying hard, we were not able to get relief for our local registrars’ offices, which have suffered about $10 million in extra costs due to the state’s still-troubled software system that handles vehicle registrations. We will continue working on making the registrars whole, while the administration continues to work on fixing the software system.
Another bill we approved included $59 million in bonding funds to upgrade municipal waste water treatments plants and other municipal clean water related projects that the Public Facilities Authority Administration oversees. It also included approximately $10 million each for the DNR, MPCA, Board of Soil & Water Resources Board and the Met Council for environmental cleanup and other agency related projects.
We held several more hearings on CWD this week. Legislation is moving through both bodies to ensure that the DNR and Board of Animal Health have the resources and flexibility to deal with this issue
It is important that we all understand the enemy here is CWD and not get sidetracked on turf issues. I am especially troubled by some groups and legislators that continue to push legislation to shift all responsibility for overseeing the 395 cervidae farms in Minnesota from the BAH to the DNR.
During testimony yesterday, the DNR indicated they didn’t think they had a single licensed animal veterinarian on staff. My understanding is they do actually have one. The BAH has six licensed veterinarians managing animal health programs in St. Paul, 11 state and cooperating federal licensed veterinarians strategically located in the field throughout Minnesota, along with 11 additional technical field staff.
I was relieved when DNR leadership indicated they do support transferring responsibility for overseeing farmed cervidae to their agency. We need to keep our eye on the ball - the objective is to get rid of CWD in both our wild and farmed cervidae herds.