- Most Free
- Least Free
- #19 Overall
- #9 Economic
- #38 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- Robert Bentley (R)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 66R/39D, Senate 22R/12D/1I 34
Alabama does much better on economic than personal freedom, as one might expect from a highly socially conservative state. Nevertheless, Alabama does well on some personal freedoms, such as smoking bans, cigarette taxes, and gun control. Alabama has a strangely restrictive alcohol regime, with the second-highest beer taxes and highest spirits taxes in the country. In addition, Alabama’s marijuana laws are unusually punitive: A three-year mandatory minimum sentence exists for all marijuana cultivation or sale convictions, by far the highest in the country, and the maximum sentence for a single cultivation or sale conviction is life in prison. Furthermore, Alabama’s court system is one of the worst in the country according to the Chamber of Commerce survey
- Move from elected to appointed judges in order to improve the quality of the state’s liability system. 35
- Eliminate mandatory minimums for marijuana offenses.
- Improve auto and road regulations: make the seatbelt law secondary rather than primary, repeal the motorcycle-helmet law for adults, and repeal the bicycle-helmet law.
34: National Conference of State Legislatures, “2011 State and Legislative Partisan Composition,” http://www.ncsl.org/documents/ statevote/2010_Legis_and_State_post.pdf, accessed December 6, 2010.
35: Eric Helland and Alex Tabarrok, “The Effect of Electoral Institutions on Tort Awards,” American Law and Economics Review 4, no. 2 (2002): 341–70
State Freedom Calculator
You know how free your state is today, but how free could it be in the future? Here are four policies from each area of the index--fiscal, regulatory, and paternalist--that allow you to play policy maker. Select from the options below and observe as your state's rankings in economic, personal, and overall freedom will be recalculated in real time and your state's ranking will rise or fall depending on your choices.