Dan Sparks: Legislature must improve MNLARS system

Published 8:16 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

Senate Report by Dan Sparks

If there’s one thing state lawmakers agree on this year, it’s that the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System is not working for most people.

Dan Sparks

I am receiving many phone calls, letters and emails about MNLARS. As a result, my office is providing direct assistance to people in southern Minnesota to the best of our ability. I take your feedback very seriously, and I am sorry that this is happening. I share your frustration and want to help.

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For context, development of MNLARS began in 2008. At the time, the Department of Vehicle Services relied on a system created in 1982 to process vehicle registrations and titles. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed grave concerns about the security of the existing system. As a result, there was broad bipartisan agreement to create a replacement. Unfortunately, good intentions do not necessarily translate to practical solutions.

Minnesotans are not the kind of people who throw up their hands and give up when confronted with a challenge. When there is a problem, we fix it, learn from it and do a better job next time. It’s the kind of mindset that has made Minnesota such an exceptional place to live, work and raise a family. And it’s the kind of attitude that will serve state lawmakers well as we work on a fix to MNLARS during the short legislative session.

I have a message for everyone who has experienced delays and difficulty with MNLARS: I am going to keep working on this until we get it right. The problems you are experiencing are unacceptable. As a state government, we can do better than this. We must do better than this.

To that end, I authored legislation to reimburse our hard-working deputy registrars for technology costs incurred during the system upgrade (Senate File 3346). I am also co-authoring legislation that would cover overtime costs for deputy registrars, who are performing an admirable job in light of very difficult circumstances. Legislation is moving through the House and Senate, and I look forward to providing a new update about our progress soon. I am especially interested in creating tougher oversight and reporting requirements as a solution is implemented, which would go a long way toward rebuilding the public’s trust.

It is unfortunate that some people want to turn this issue into an election year political football. This is an issue that affects us all and it should not be partisan. We need to make this right, and we’ve got no time to waste. Now is not the time to throw up our hands and wave a white flag. Now is the time to fix the problem, learn from the mistakes made, and do better.

Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is the District 27 senator.