Above~Minnesota state Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, holds up his personal license plate during a hearing at the Minnesota Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Because of problems with a state computer system, such plates cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another right now.
Minnesota lawmakers got an earful Wednesday about the beleaguered new computer system intended to make life easier for anyone needing to deal with license plates and vehicle titles.
In fact, it’s made everything worse, according to license center workers, a credit union manager, an auctioneer and others who testified before a state Senate hearing.
Here are some of their stories.
‘WALKED OUT BAWLING’
One license center operator from Brainerd said his workers are quitting out of frustration.
Two employees have had to step away from the office to seek medical help from the stress of being unable to meet basic requests of customers, such as obtaining a duplicate title or renewing tabs, said Donny Vosen, who owns an independent license center with his wife.
Two others have quit, he said.
“One employee walked out in the middle of the day bawling — couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.
‘MNLiARS: SADLY, IT’S BECOME A JOKE’
The system is called MNLARS — Minnesota Licensing and Registration System.
Vosen said they’ve got another name for it in his office.
“We call it MNLiARS,” he said. “Sadly, it’s become a joke. This is a prime example of why people hate big government.”
WORST POINT OF 34-YEAR CAREER
Kim Griffith, who runs the city of Bloomington’s license center, has worked there for 34 years.
“This is the most trying time of my career,” Griffith said. The facility used to take customers until 5 p.m.; now they cut it off at 4:30 to allow staff time to catch up after hours, every day.
“We used our full year’s overtime budget in the first two months (since the July launch),” she said.
If things don’t change, the license center’s financial situation will be such that she’ll have to ask the city to subsidize the center with additional tax money.
She told the story of one man who made three separate visits, waiting about an hour each time, for a task that her staff was never able to complete.
“We have zero answers for our customers,” she said.
‘RUNNING OUT OF SPACE’
Jason Seeman, an employee of Insurance Auto Auctions, said the delay in processing titles is causing cars to pile up — almost literally — in storage lots.
From offices in St. Paul, the company takes vehicles whose ownership has been assumed by insurance companies and sells them at auction. But he can’t sell them without a clean title. And he can’t get clean titles fast enough.
It used to take 30 days; now it takes 90, he said.
Last week, the business applied for titles to more than 200 vehicles, while receiving 10. The math is obvious, he said.
We have 6,500 cars in inventory … more than half don’t have titles,” he said. “We’re running out of space to store them. This is not a good thing, with winter approaching.”
This is the second hearing lawmakers have held on MNLARS.
Officials with the Department of Public Safety told senators Wednesday that they’re addressing the problems as fast as they can.