Viewpoint: Poll gives legislators input on residents' thoughts
The annual state fair poll, conducted at the Minnesota Senate booth, is a nonpartisan survey of issues discussed in prior legislative sessions and potential topics in 2018. The results, while not scientific, give legislators an informal look at how Minnesotans feel about a range of common and uncommon questions. More than 5,300 Minnesotans took the poll — with more than 44 percent respondents living in the suburbs, 36 percent in the cities, and 17 percent in outstate Minnesota.
Providing a sustainable and reliable transportation system in Minnesota has been a perennial debate in the Legislature. This year, the poll question surveyed a specific option for raising revenue — toll roads. This year, the Legislature ordered a review of toll roads, how such a system could be implemented in Minnesota, and how much in funding their use would create. Minnesotans, however, appear to be strongly against the idea, with more than 71 percent of poll respondents saying Minnesota should not look to toll roads as a solution to our transportation problems
Current Minnesota law requires children to be immunized from a variety of infectious diseases before attending educational programs, but allows a parent or guardian to waive this requirement for a religious or personal objection. When asked whether to keep this exemption, almost 62 percent of respondents believed it should instead be eliminated. Recent outbreaks of preventable diseases, including measles, have led to renewed discussion on the importance of high vaccination rates versus parental rights and beliefs.
A recent legislative topic with special significance in greater Minnesota is ditch mowing. Landowners are now required to obtain a permit to mow or bale hay in ditches along state trunk highways. This year, the Legislature passed a one-year moratorium on the requirement as the state, conservation groups, and farmers work to prepare for implementation. When asked about their primary concern with ditch mowing, more than 57 percent of respondents noted the habitat for pollinators and nesting birds.
In 2017, Minnesota lawmakers appropriated $327 million on a one-time basis to provide assistance to Minnesotans facing high premiums in the individual health insurance market. More than 46 percent of participants said Minnesota should continue to provide funding to help lower individual health insurance premiums. In addition, another 31 percent said we should continue to provide subsidies, but with income limitations.
In addition to these topics, 53 percent of participants believe Minnesota anglers should not be allowed to fish with two lines in open water and 52 percent believe Minnesota should not dramatically expand the state's current law on the use of force to defend against intruders in one's own home.
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