MNLARS fixes haven’t stopped complaints

Donny Vosen, who runs a deputy regisrar office in Brainerd told mebers of the MNLARS steering committee that he remains angry about the troubled system. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Recent upgrades to the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) haven’t stopped deputy registrars from complaining about its performance.

They shared their frustrations with state lawmakers Wednesday during a meeting of a MNLARS oversight committee. The faulty system was launched statewide nearly a year ago and complaints about delayed transactions quickly followed.

Gaye Smith said the problems have taken a toll on her South St. Paul licensing office.

“We are the ones being yelled at, day in and day out,” Smith said.

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Donny Vosen, a deputy registrar from Brainerd, criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for vetoing legislation that would have reimbursed deputy registrars for MNLARS-related expenses.

“If the governor does not understand the severity of what is happening here, he either needs new advisors or he is not listening,” Vosen said. “Governor, if you are listening, I implore you to set your ego aside and call a special session to get this fix started before the whole deputy registrar infrastructure completely collapses.”

Dayton said he supported the reimbursement, but he rejected the bill in May because it tapped existing agency accounts and was not part of a comprehensive MNLARS repair measure. He also vetoed a large budget bill that included MNLARS funding. The loss of that funding means repair work will soon come to a halt.

Dana Bailey, executive director of projects and initiatives for Minnesota IT Services, told committee members that they are trying to complete as many fixes as possible before the money runs out. She said the timing for a ramp down is still not clear.

“It’s something that we are still assessing,” Bailey said.

Bailey assured lawmakers that funding is in place for the start of issuing Real ID-compliant drivers’ licenses on Oct. 1. An outside vendor is running that technology project.

Still, deputy registrars complained about the training requirements their staff must meet this summer related to the new drivers’ licenses. Donny Vosen said it would add “more strain” on his office.

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said he sympathizes with the deputy registrars.

“They’ve really taken the brunt of the difficulties here,” Torkelson said.