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MN House passes $9 million relief bill for deputy registrars

torkelson and baker
Rep. Paul Torkeson, left, and Rep. Dave Baker talked outside the Minnesota House chamber about their bill to reimburse deputy registrars for MNLARS woes. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

The Minnesota House has passed a $9 million bailout for local licensing offices that were harmed by failures in the computer system known as MNLARS.

Lawmakers voted 123-1 Thursday for the bill.

The measure would reimburse 174 deputy registrars for overtime and other expenses linked to MNLARS problems, which began after last summer’s launch of the new vehicle licensing and registration system. Republican

Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, said the payments are based on the number of transactions in each office. Baker said the payments would will average about $60,000.

“It gets them the first step of reimbursing them for the losses financially, but it doesn’t even touch emotional strain on these poor people,” Baker said. “They are working so hard to give good customer service in a system that was never going to work right because of the way it was built.”

The House bill taps Department of Public Safety reserves rather than the general fund.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, supported the bill but raised concerns about the funding source.

“I think it would be better served from the general fund,” Hansen said.

The Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

The House is also considering additional future payments to deputy registrars. Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, the chair of the House transportation committee, said the details are still being worked out.

“We know this is an ongoing problem,” Torkelson said. “They still have a problem of spending a lot of extra time doing the same transactions they did in the past.”

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