This should make Steve Hoodjer proud.  The Mercatus Center of George Mason University released a “Freedom in the 50 States” study earlier this week.  They rank the states on on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres.

They rank Iowa 13th.  Iowa ranks 7th in economic freedom, and 30th in personal freedom.  In their analysis they write:

Despite frequently electing politicians who do not seem very interested in preserving freedom, Iowa’s policies are fairly freedom friendly. The state particularly stands out on economic regulation. Iowa also has a light touch on land-use planning. Labor regulations are business friendly, with right-to-work laws, no minimum- or prevailing-wage laws, and a decent workers’-compensation regime. Health-insurance coverage mandates are low. The court system is very good. Occupational licensing is much better than average. On personal freedoms, the picture is mixed. Marijuana sentencing definitely needs reform. Private schools are highly regulated, and homeschool standardized testing and notification requirements are burdensome. Asset forfeiture needs reform. However, most forms of gaming are permitted. Individual and grassroots PAC political contributions are unregulated, but corporate PAC contributions are banned altogether. Extensive smoking bans have swept in recently. Cable franchise reform was enacted not long ago. A judicial decision legalizing same-sex marriage occurred after the period covered by this index.

They obviously don’t take corporate tax structure into account, but this demonstrates that, at least comparatively, with business regulations Iowa’s pretty good.  That’s sure to get even better with the current administration.  Their criteria for what encompasses personal freedom is a mixed bag.  Iowa next time will likely increase in rank with the same-sex marriage issue which I don’t view as a positive.  I do appreciate their highlighting their private school regulations and homeschool testing and notification requirements.

Their policy recommendations for Iowa:

  1. Improve the environment for personal freedom by cutting sin taxes and reforming marijuana sentencing guidelines.
  2. End private-school teacher licensing. Reduce standardized testing and notification requirements for homeschoolers.
  3. Reform asset forfeiture by placing the burden of proof on the government and redirecting proceeds to the general fund.

Legislature and Governor Branstad (and Jason Glass)… instead of just focusing on corporate regulations, this study shows we have work in other areas, in particular our education regulations.

The Top 10 States are:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. South Dakota
  3. Indiana
  4. Idaho
  5. Missouri
  6. Nevada
  7. Colorado
  8. Oregon
  9. Virginia
  10. North Dakota

HT: Glenn Reynolds

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