State Fair visitors came down overwhelmingly on the side of a higher state minimum wage, background checks at gun shows and the legalization of medical marijuana this year's poll by the House Public Information Services.
Every year, the nonpartisan House and Senate information services poll of visitors to their booths at the State Fair. The results are far from scientific, but can produce some interesting results.
More than 7,000 people participated in the House's 2013 poll. The most lopsided results came from a question about mandatory background checks on firearms purchases at gun shows -- 82 percent favored background checks, 14 percent opposed. Other polls have shown similarly strong support for closing the gun show loophole, but legislation that would have expanded background checks fizzled in the Legislature this year.
Fairgoers also came down in favor of a hike in the state minimum wage, from the current $6.15 an hour to $9.50 an hour for large employers and $8.50 an hour for small businesses. Such a hike would bump Minnesota from a state with one of the lowest state minimum wages -- lower than the federal minimum wage -- to one of the highest.
The House poll also showed considerable support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota -- 74 percent favored legalization, 18 percent opposed. Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently allow doctors to prescribe marijuana, and legalization legislation is likely to come up here during next year's legislative session.
The House poll also found that 59 percent of fairgoers supported the creation of a citizen task force to investigate whether state lawmakers deserve a raise on their current salary of $31,140 a year. Another 53 percent said they favored a 5 cent increase in the gas tax; 75 percent thought high school diplomas should be awarded only to students who can pass basic reading, writing and math tests; and by 46 percent to 27 percent, fairgoers approved of the idea of bumping up the start of the fishing opener so it wouldn't conflict with Mother's Day.
The only issue that really united the fairgoers in opposition was the issue of red light cameras -- 51 percent thought local governments shouldn't be allowed to use intersection cameras to prosecute drivers who run red lights, while 40 percent approved of the idea.