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Survey finds State Fairgoers support free Pre-K, mandatory boat license tests

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A poll of State Fair-goers on a number of burning issues in Minnesota turned up some interesting results – particularly concerning preschool and boat licensing.

The Minnesota House of Representatives questioned 6,338 people at the State Fair about issues discussed during the last legislative session – and ones that may crop up again next year.

It was conducted by the nonpartisan House Public Information Services.

Turns out that the majority of respondents backed Gov. Mark Dayton's plan for publicly-funded preschool for all Minnesota 4-year-olds, with 59.7 percent in favor of it, 32.6 percent against, and the rest undecided.

The Governor's plan didn't make it past the legislature in the latest budget round. It proved a sticking point with GOP representatives and threatened a government shutdown, with Dayton eventually agreeing to scrap it for this year.

All the results should be taken with a pinch of salt, with the House in its press release admitting its survey was "informal and unscientific" – nonetheless here are some of the specifics.

Support for boat test, teacher layoff proposals

Another issue that failed to become law – but appears to have the support of fairgoers – was making boaters take a 30-minute invasive species training program before they get their licenses.

The requirement was due to be introduced by the Department of Natural Resources on July 1 this year, but it was nixed during the special legislative session – mainly because it didn't exempt boaters from out of state, some of whom may just be passing through and not using it on Minnesota lakes.

In the State Fair poll, 70 percent of people thought boaters should be required to take an Internet test before getting their license.

It was proposed because of the growing threat of aquatic species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil, which are spreading in part because boaters are not cleaning their crafts properly as they use different lakes.

MPR notes Republican lawmakers' unsuccessful attempts to remove a "last in, first out" provision for teacher layoffs had broad support among fairgoers, with 73.4 percent saying seniority shouldn't be a primary factor when deciding who should be laid off.

To see all the questions and full results, click here.

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