MN Senate delays vote on MNLARS bill

The Minnesota Senate postponed a vote on legislation to provide $7.3 million for repairs to the troubled motor vehicle licensing and registration system, known as MNLARS.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he wanted the vote Thursday, but it will now likely take place on Monday. Gazelka said plans were altered after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton raised objections to the legislative oversight section of the bill. Further discussions are planned over the weekend.

Gazelka said he wants the governor to sign the bill.

“The fact that we don’t have agreement on that area is why I postponed it, because it’s been important to me that that this not be a partisan issue,” Gazelka said. “The governor took responsibility, but I’ve always said in the end, we still have to fix it.”

The timing of the funding is critical. Without it, Minnesota IT Services plans to lay off 39 MNLARS contractors at the end of the month.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he’s not convinced that Republicans want to resolve the issue.

“They’ve got a bill on the floor right now that the governor does not support, and it should have been fixed in the committee process,” Bakk said.

During Thursday’s Senate floor session, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, tried unsuccessfully to force a vote on the bill. Dibble said approval of the MNLARS funding is an urgent matter.

“We’re going to lose all these programmers,” Dibble said. “We might as well turn off the lights and not proceed with MNLARS anymore if we don’t do this today.”

The author of the bill, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, objected to Dibble’s motion.

Newman, the chair of the Senate transportation committee, said the governor is seeking significant changes which will require additional work before a vote.

“I recognize the urgency of it, but to rush through this, we’re going to get it wrong,” Newman said.