New Hampshire Number 1 in State Freedom Index

A new study by the Mercatus Institute ranks New Hampshire as Number 1 in State Freedom Index (pdf).  Here is what the State Freedom Index had to say about New Hampshire:


New Hampshire is, by our count, the freest state in the country. Depending on weights, however, it really shares the slot with South Dakota. New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy. Under unified Democratic control in 2007–2008, the state saw a respectable increase in freedom. A smoking ban was enacted, but so were same-sex civil unions. Taxes, spending, and fiscal decentralization remain more than a standard deviation better than average, and government debt actually went down slightly. Gun laws are among the most liberal in the country, but carrying a firearm in a car requires a concealed-carry permit. Effective retail-tax rates on wine and spirits are zero. Marijuana laws are middling; low-level possession could be decriminalized like it is in Maine, while low-level cultivation could be made a misdemeanor like it is in both Maine and Vermont. New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no seatbelt law for adults. It lacks a motorcycle helmet law but does have a bicycle-helmet law and authorizes sobriety checkpoints. State approval is required to open a private school. Homeschool laws are slightly worse than average; standardized testing and record-keeping requirements are stricter than those in most states. Eminent-domain reforms have gone far. The state’s liability system is one of the best, but campaign-finance regulations are quite strict. The drug law-enforcement rate is low and dropping, while arrests for other victimless crimes are high and dropping. Asset-forfeiture law is definitely subpar, with potential for abuse.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Enact the marijuana reforms cited above.
  2. Remove standardized-testing requirements for homeschoolers.
  3. Asset forfeiture requires reform to place the burden of proof on the government.

Additionally, you can tinker around with the state freedom score using their State Freedom Calculator.