The libertarian Cato Institute has just released its Freedom in the 50 States survey. The survey ranks how free the 50 states are in the U.S.
Where does Louisiana rank? Unfortunately, it ranks in the bottom half of the survey. Louisiana is the 30th freest state in the union. Even worse, Louisiana has fallen 4 places from last year’s survey.
Here is a summary of Louisiana’s ranking:
Louisiana used to be one of the least economically free states in the South, but it has improved significantly on fiscal policy since 2008. The state is now in the middle of the pack on both economic freedom and personal freedom.
[…]Louisiana is one of the better states for both land-use and labor-market freedom. Zoning is light. The state has a right-to-work law and no minimum wage. A telecommunications deregulation bill was enacted in 2013–14, and the state has long had statewide video franchising. On the other hand, occupational freedom is notoriously bad in Louisiana (as of this writing, it is still the only state to license florists—out of a concern for public health and safety, no doubt). Nurses and dental hygienists have very little freedom of practice. The state has a hospital certificate-of-need law, but moving companies do not have to get a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” to open. There is an “unfair” pricing ban and a “price-gouging” ban. Needless to say, Louisiana is one of the most cronyist states. Louisiana’s court system has long been terrible no matter how you measure it (enacted tort reforms, survey ratings, size of the legal sector).
[…]On personal freedom, Louisiana hasn’t seen the improvements in personal freedom enjoyed by other states, although it did receive a bump from the Obergefell decision. It was dragged down for this edition by being the worst state on criminal justice policy.
[…] The state’s asset forfeiture law was strengthened slightly in 2007–8, but the state remains worse than average on its asset forfeiture regime.
[…]Gun rights are about average, as the state makes it almost impossible to get a Class III weapon, concealed carry is weighed down with limitations, the permit cost for concealed carry is high, and there is a stricter-than-federal minimum age for possession.
Here’s how other southern states ranked:
North Carolina -18
South Carolina -29
West Virginia -34
The survey’s authors make some policy recommendations for Louisiana.
- Fiscal: Cut spending in areas well above the national average: employee retirement, water transportation (the state spends five times as much as a share of personal income as Texas and more than twice as much as Mississippi), parks and recreation, housing and community development, health and hospitals, corrections, and general administration. Use the proceeds to cut the sales tax, one of the nation’s highest.
- Regulatory: Abolish judicial elections and enact punitive damages reforms.
- Personal: Follow localities and decriminalize small-scale possession of marijuana at the state level.
I agree with all of that except the abolishing judicial elections part. I don’t think Louisiana is ready for that since we’re used to voting for just about everything. But I would like to eventually move towards having district court judges, appellate judges, and the Louisiana Supreme Court justices nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Louisiana Senate.
As for the rest of the states, here are the top 5:
New Hampshire -2
The top 3 states are completely Republican controlled. Colorado has a Democratic governor and state house while Republicans control the Senate. Nevada has a Republican governor while Democrats control the legislature.
Meanwhile, here ae the bottom 5:
New Jersey -47
New York -50
All of these are under complete Democrat control, except for Vermont which has a Republican governor.