Since the state rolled out the new licensing system (MNLARS) in July, we’ve seen problem after problem with few solutions coming forward. You’ve likely experienced difficulty in transferring a vehicle or receiving a new license plate. On Wednesday, officials in charge of MNLARS made the case that everything was fixed. That was until we heard startling testimony that there’s over 300,000 backlogged transactions in the system awaiting processing. It’s truly astounding. The Pioneer Press provided more details into the problem, including a troubling internal memo that stressed workers to focus on speed over accuracy. This is a multi-million dollar, taxpayer-funded system, why can’t we have both?
Beyond the consumer glitches – and complete lack of support from Driver and Vehicle Services – our local registrars aren’t able to do their job. I spoke to one registrar in our area who owns a private business; she has to get to work at 6am and stays until 9pm to try and keep up with the sluggish state system. Especially for the privately owned businesses, the extra expenses, overtime hours, and lack of communication from the state are proving extremely costly. These business owners are having to use their own money just to keep the lights on while the state continues to fumble the rollout.
The same problems persist for county and municipally run license centers. I've been working with my colleagues for months to find solutions for deputy registrars, auto dealers, auto lending companies, and consumers. As these costs continue to mount, we’ll start to see our county and municipal registrars levy new tax dollars to cover overtime and revenue shortfalls. In speaking to the administration in Chaska, I know Carver County is having to staff overtime hours, continuing to rack up more expenses. That’s YOUR local taxes being used for a statewide system that should be running smoothly.
What’s most frustrating is there’s no end in sight. At Wednesday’s hearing, I repeatedly asked those in charge of the MNLARS project when we might see a finished product that fixes the persistent issues. Over and over I was given non-answers, dodging anything close to a specific timeline. If you’re interested, you can see some of my comments here.
I know you’re frustrated with the new licensing system, but know that in the legislature, we’re keeping the pressure on the state to make things right. Minnesotans deserve better.
If you have questions about MNLARS, or any other state issue, please feel free to call or email my office. It’s my goal to help the state work better for you, and I value your input in ways to do that.
Enjoy your weekend,