The state profiles (found through the above map) highlight some of the most interesting aspects of each state’s public policies as they affect individual freedom. In preparation for this year’s edition of Freedom in the 50 States, we conducted a survey of free-market policy analysts at think tanks associated with the State Policy Network (SPN). 33 We contacted 58 policy analysts in 49 states and received responses from 37 policy analysts in 32 states (63.8 percent). The primary purpose of the survey was to obtain expert information on specific, realistic reform recommendations in each state. Our policy recommendations are therefore based partly on these survey responses and partly on noteworthy scores on policy variables we measure. It is worth noting that our respondents skewed heavily conservative. We asked respondents to grade the issue subcategories in our index on a 0–10 scale of their importance to individual freedom, 10 meaning most important. The top three subcategories for our respondents (mean scores in parentheses) were education (9.15), health-insurance regulation (9.07), and labor regulation (8.57). The bottom three subcategories were same-sex partnerships and other marriage freedoms (4.04), marijuana laws (4.48), and miscellaneous mala prohibita (5.37). Three respondents scored marriage-license restrictions as irrelevant to freedom (0).
We encourage researchers to examine the policy spreadsheets carefully for details of particular states’ policies. We caution that the information used for these state profiles was accurate as of January 1, 2009. There will have been changes since that time that do not yet show up in our data.