MLARS: Resolved for now

Note: this post will be updated as developments happen.


Monday 3/19 was MNLARS day at the capitol, with different versions of a fix for the beleaguered licensing system passing out of the House and Senate.

Yes, different. Which means we aren’t done with the process yet as it heads to conference committee.  But this may be a good thing since both bills have some weaknesses and it’s not 100% clear that Governor Dayton would sign either of them at this point. 


Here is what they contain:





Who oversees MNLARS use of the money?

Legislative Auditor and bill also create a new MNLARS oversight committee.

Legislative Advisory Council

How much funding

$9.65M to MNLARS (MN.IT and DVS) $350K to Legislative Auditor for oversight

$10M to DVS for MNLARS

Where does the money come from?

Reallocated from Public Safety and other dedicated funds.

Reallocated from DVS and Public Safety BUT the Governor is required to backfill the spending from other agency budgets.

Other strings attached to the Money?

Sets strict project tracking and reporting requirements.

Specifies how the funds are to be spent; sets strict project tracking and reporting requirements.


Other issues


Directing DPS to issue a request for information to explore whether an outside private vendor is a better financial option than fixing the current system.


Requires that the Dayton administration to request an extension to the October 10, 2018, REAL ID deadline from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Roll call vote

Passed 47-20

Passed 98-27



Originally, the Governor supported the agency request for $10 Million with no strings attached. His supplementary budget released on Friday asked for $20 million, partly funded by a $2 fee on license plates. Chair Sarah Anderson had an amendment which put the Governor’s proposal up for discussion. Most, but not all, DFLers voted against it as it failed 8 -117.


The Senate can accept the House changes (probably not), or if it names members to a conference committee, then the House will follow suit and name members as well.  This is where negotiations may go dark, especially with the Governor’s office as legislative leaders attempt to produce a bill that the Governor will sign.  At some point, a conference committee will meet, and the result will be sent back to each house for approval.


Update 10 am 3/20: Governor says in a press conference that he agrees with the Senate bill and will refuse to the House provision that the money is backfilled by other agencies.  He took a hard line claiming that the House was just using the MNLARS situation for partisan gain. 

Update 3/21: Senate refuses to concur with House version of the bill. Names members to a conference committee.  House returns the favor shortly after.  Conferees are Senate: Newman, Osmek, Dibble; House: Torkelson, Baker, Nelson. Conference Committee is scheduled to meet at 8:00 am on Thursday 3/22. 

Update 3/22: Conference Committee met and the House's clawback provision (forcing the Governor to make cuts elsewhere in his budget to pay for MNLARS overruns) was rejected by the Senate and the DFL member of the House delegation, Rep. Nelson. The Senate and House Republicans rejected an attempt by the DFL members of the delegation to strip some of the legislative oversight. Other technical corrections were made to the bill, and it was sent to the respective bodies for an easy repassage vote.  The Governor signed it later that evening. 

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