Both sides earn some kudos for cooperation

It was refreshing to see the quick — and bipartisan — action taken in the Minnesota Legislature this week on the funding for the Minnesota License and Registration System. MNLARS is the nine-year, $100 million boondoggle that was supposed to update and modernize the state’s computer system for issuing vehicles registrations and drivers licenses. But since it rolled out in 2017, it has not worked, or at least not very well.

Since then, the state has been struggling to get MNLARS going, fix the bugs and revamp whatever needs an overhaul. But that takes money, and for too long the Legislature was too busy pointing fingers at the Dayton administration to pass the needed legislation.

But Gov. Mark Dayton is gone now. His successor, Tim Walz, has told legislators that while it is a problem he only inherited, he accepts it and wants to get it fixed.

This week, legislators worked out an agreement to provide $13 million more to keep the repair work going, and to provide another $10 million in compensation for the beleaguered registrars across the state. They are private contractors who have taken a big financial hit as the problems drag on.

On Tuesday, Gov. Walz signed the bill, which contains funding for an outside expert to examine MNLARS and help decide its future.

This action, so early in the legislative session, holds out hope that DFLers and Republicans can work together to do what needs to be done this year. We’ll see. They are, after all, just getting started.