Residents reveal their opinions in survey on state and local issues

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

As far as some local residents are concerned, the majority believe that foreign visitors should have color-coded licenses that expire at the same time as their visas and think that tax-free enterprise zones would help economically disadvantaged communities to snag more jobs.

More than 650 area residents responded to a survey mailed out earlier in the year by Rep. Jeff Anderson, R-Austin. Anderson said he mailed out surveys to gauge local opinion on a variety of topics that have come up since he was elected to replace Rep. Rob Leighton.

"My survey is not a scientific poll by any means, but I think the results are a good barometer of how many people in this area feel about particular issues," he said.

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Anderson's 27-B district includes Mower County and a portion of Fillmore County.

Anderson said the vast majority of respondents said they favored the idea of having the color-coded licenses. The visa language is in the House Judiciary bill.

"In light of 9/11, I think a majority of Minnesotans would agree with the governor that this is just a common sense measure," Anderson said. "We must remember that a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. The state should have the authority to standardize the driver's license and identification processes, both due to national security and the growing problem of identity theft."

Also, 61 percent of respondents said having the tax-free zones would be beneficial. The zones are part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal and are also a part of the House Omnibus Tax bill.

"I think this has great potential to be a very effective and powerful economic development tool for rural Minnesota, but it must not be used as a device to simply move jobs from one community to another," Anderson said. "More important, prospective businesses must prove that they'd be in it for the long haul and not disappear when the aid runs out. The state and eligible communities must do a very thorough business evaluation of any applicant."

Also in the survey, 81 percent of respondents said they support the "Woman's Right to Know" legislation, which requires doctors to provide women abortion information before any procedures are performed on them. Sixty-six percent of respondents also said state tax dollars should not be used to build and operate the Northstar Commuter Train, a proposed 82-mile commuter rail system that would run from St. Cloud to Minneapolis.

Dan Fields can be reached at 434-2230 or by e-mail at