CATO: Oklahoma Ranks 2nd In Freedom

The message of freedom has been religated to ambiguity by an ever-increasing growth in government. We so often exchange our freedom for a vage promis of security or increased convenience. This is demonstrated by misnamed legislation like "the patriot act" or "affordable care act"/ Ben Franklin once wisely said; "Those who would exchange essential freedom for temporary security, deserve neither freedom nor security." The 2016 edition of the libertarian Cato Institute’s “Freedom in the 50 States” report ranks Oklahoma second-best for overall freedom. The Oklahoman posted their take on the report:   The report ranks states “based on how their policies promote freedom in the fiscal, regulatory, and personal realms.” The authors’ libertarian viewpoint leads them to emphasize some issues that one would expect (such as supporting lower levels of taxation and light regulation), but also more controversial policies (such as the institute’s support for marijuana legalization and gambling).   Even so, there’s much to like in the report.
Rankings - Overall 1. New Hampshire +1 2. Oklahoma +3 3. Indiana +1 4. South Dakota -3 5. Alaska +4 6. Tennessee -3 7. Idaho +1 8. Florida -1 9. Iowa -3 10. Colorado +3 11. Nevada -1 12. North Dakota -1 13. Wyoming +1 14. Arizona +2 15. South Carolina +5 16. Kansas +9
17. Montana +4 18. Missouri -6 19. North Carolina +4 20. Utah +2 21. Virginia +3 22. Georgia-7 23. Alabama -4 24. Michigan -7 25. Nebraska -7 26. Pennsylvania +1 27. Wisconsin +5 28. Texas -2 29. Arkansas -1 30. New Mexico +3 31. Delaware +6 32. Washington -1 33. Massachusetts -4
34. Louisiana -4 35. Ohio +1 36. Mississippi -2 37. Minnesota +3 38. Oregon -3 39. West Virginia +3 40. Vermont -2 41. Kentucky -2 42. Maine -1 43. Rhode Island = 44. Illinois +1 45. Connecticut -1 46. Maryland = 47. New Jersey = 48. Hawaii = 49. California = 50. New York =
  The CATO report provides this Oklahoma analysis
  Oklahoma is the most improved state for the 2000–2014 period. Moreover, although the Sooner State’s personal freedom lags its economic freedom, it has made significant progress on both dimensions.  Oklahoma is one of the lowest-taxed states in America. However, it is also fiscally centralized. Local taxation is about 2.9 percent of personal income, while state taxation is 4.6 percent of personal income. Government subsidies are lower than average but have risen a touch over time, to 0.06 percent of personal income. State and local debt is much lower than average (11.4 percent of income), and government employment is much higher than average (15.2 percent of private employment). Oklahoma has managed to cut its debt even as its tax receipts fell significantly as a share of the economy. Land-use regulation is light in Oklahoma, although the state has not restrained eminent domain for private gain. Labor law is excellent, with a right-to-work law, no statelevel minimum wage, a federally consistent anti-discrimination law, and lighter workers’ compensation mandates than most states. Occupational licensing has grown over time, but not as much as in most other states.  However, nurses’ practice freedom remains fairly restricted. Insurance freedom is high, and rating classification prohibitions were eliminated in 2013–14. The state does have both general and gasoline-focused sales below-cost prohibitions. The court system is relatively good, due to tort reforms in the 1990s and early 2000s. Oklahoma’s incarceration rate, adjusted for the crime rate, is more than a standard deviation higher than the national average, but it has not been changing much recently. Meanwhile, victimless crime arrest rates have been declining since 2006. Civil asset forfeiture reform has not gone far. It is still possible to get sentenced to life in prison for a single cannabis offense not involving minors. And a two-year mandatory minimum exists for even small-scale cultivation. For a state without a government liquor monopoly, Oklahoma does poorly on alcohol freedom. It has statewide blue laws, a happy hour ban, a total ban on direct wine shipment, and a ban on wine and spirits in grocery stores. Gambling expanded significantly in 2011–12. Educational freedom has grown recently with a very limited voucher law in 2010 and a modest tax benefit for contributions to private scholarship funds enacted in 2011–12. Homeschools and private schools are virtually unregulated. Tobacco freedom is relatively good, although new smoking restrictions in bars surfaced in 2013–14. The state was forced to legalize same-sex marriage, suspending its super DOMA, in 2014.
The following list indicates the weighting of the relevant variables that led to the rankings of states on this website. For more on these weightings, see the book Freedom in the Fifty States which may be downloaded here. You can also apply your own weights to these variables here. Fiscal Policy: 29.5%-32.0% State Taxation: 13.4% Local Taxation: 78.6%-10.1% Government Subsidies: 2.3% Government debt: 2.1% Regulatory Policy: 38.7% Land Use Freedom: 10.5%
  • Local rent control: 6.0%
  • "Land-use" court mentions: 2.2%
  • Wharton Residential Land Use Regulatory Index: 1.1%
  • Renewable portfolio standards: 1.0%
  • Regulatory taking compensation: 0.2%
  • Eminent domain reform index: 0.1%
  • Parking lot gun mandate: 0.01%
  • Mandated free speech on private property: <0.01%
Health insurance freedom: 7.4%
  • Community rating: small groups: 2.7%
  • Individual health insurance mandate: 2.7%
  • Health insurance mandates index: 2.4%
  • Individual guaranteed issue: 0.7%
  • Small-group rate review: 0.6%
  • Community rating: individuals: 0.5%
  • Mandated direct access to specialists: 0.4%
  • Individual rate review: 0.06%
  • Mandated standing referrals: 0.03%
  • Individual policies: elimination riders banned: 0.03%
  • Mandated external grievance review: 0.02%
  • Financial incentives to providers banned: 0.01%
  • “Mandate-light” or “mandate-free” policies: <0.01%
Labor-market freedom: 5.7%
  • General right-to-work law: 2.8%
  • Short-term disability insurance: 1.0%
  • Workers’ compensation coverage regulations: 0.6%
  • Workers’ compensation funding regulations: 0.6%
  • Minimum wage: 0.5%
  • Employer verification of legal status: 0.2%
  • Employee anti-discrimination law: 0.01
  • Paid family leave: <0.01%
Occupational freedom: 4.5%
  • Employment-weighted licensure (extent): 1.2%
  • Nurse practitioner independence index: 0.9%
  • Summed education and experience requirements: 0.6%
  • Number of licensed occupations: 0.6%
  • Regulatory keywords in statutes: 0.6%
  • Summed exam requirements: 0.2%
  • Dental hygienist scope of practice: 0.1%
  • Summed fees for licensed occupations: 0.07%
  • Physician assistant prescribing authority: 0.05%
  • Sunrise commissions: 0.05%
  • Nurse Licensure Compact membership: 0.04%
  • Nursing consultation exception: 0.04%
  • Sunset review: 0.01%
Lawsuit freedom: 3.7%4 Miscellaneous regulatory freedom: 2.9%
  • Certificate of need for hospitals: 0.9%
  • Rate filing requirements: personal auto insurance: 0.5%
  • Rate filing requirements: homeowner’s insurance: 0.3%
  • Anti-price-gouging laws: 0.2%
  • General sales-below-cost laws: 0.2%
  • Rate classification prohibitions: 0.2%
  • Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact: 0.2%
  • State form filing requirements for life insurance: 0.2%
  • Sales-below-cost law for gasoline: 0.1%
  • Direct auto sales: 0.1%
  • State rate filing requirement for workers’ compensation: 0.04%
  • Moving company entry regulation: 0.02%
  • Mandatory labeling law: 0.2%
Cable and telecommunications: 1.1%
  • Telecom deregulation: 0.7%
  • Statewide cable franchising: 0.4%
Personal freedom: 29.4% Incarceration and arrests: 6.6%
  • Crime-adjusted incarceration rate: 4.2%
  • Drug enforcement rate: 1.4%
  • Arrests for nondrug victimless crimes, % of population: 0.5%
  • Arrests for nondrug victimless crimes, % of all arrests: 0.5%
  • Marriage freedom: 4.0%
  • Same-sex partnerships laws: 2.2%
  • Super-DOMA: 1.0%
  • Sodomy laws: 0.4%
  • Cousin marriage: 0.4%
  • Covenant marriage: 0.1%
  • Blood test required: 0.01%
  • Total waiting period: 0.01%
  • Education: 3.2%
  • Tax credit/deduction: 1.2%
  • Publicly funded voucher law: 0.7%
  • Private school teacher licensure: 0.6%
  • Private school approval requirement: 0.2%
  • Compulsory schooling years: 0.2%
  • Private school curriculum control: 0.2%
  • Public school choice: 0.1%
  • Homeschooling curriculum control: 0.04%
  • Homeschooling standardized testing: 0.03%
  • Homeschooling record-keeping requirements: 0.03%
  • Homeschooling notification requirements: 0.02%
  • Homeschooling teacher qualifications: 0.01%
  • Private school registration: <0.01%
  • Homeschool statute: <0.01%
Gun control: 3.2%
  • Local gun ban: 1.0%
  • Concealed-carry index: 0.4%
  • Initial permit cost: 0.4%
  • Firearms licensing index: 0.3%
  • Waiting period for purchases: 0.3%
  • Initial permit term: 0.2%
  • Stricter minimum age: 0.2%
  • Assault weapons ban: 0.1%
  • Open carry index: 0.05%
  • No duty to retreat: 0.05%
  • Any other weapon: 0.04%
  • Dealer licensing: 0.03%
  • Built-in locking devices: 0.03%
  • Nonpowder guns: 0.03%
  • Restrictions on multiple purchases: 0.03%
  • Background checks for private sales: 0.02%
  • Registration of firearms: 0.02%
  • Design safety standards: 0.01%
  • Machine guns: 0.01%
  • Ammo microstamping: 0.01%
  • Large-capacity magazine bans: 0.01%
  • Sound suppressor: <0.01%
  • Short-barreled shotguns: <0.01%
  • Short-barreled rifles: <0.01%
  • .50 caliber ban: <0.01%
Alcohol: 2.9%
  • Alcohol distribution index: 1.1%
  • Blue law index: 0.4%
  • Sales and grocery stores: 0.4%
  • Spirits taxes: 0.3%
  • Wine taxes: 0.2%
  • Beer taxes: 0.2%
  • Direct wine shipment ban: 0.2%
  • Keg regulations/ban: 0.1%
  • Happy hour ban: 0.03%
  • Mandatory server training: <0.01%
Marijuana Freedom: 2.1%
  • Medical marijuana index: 0.9%
  • Possession decriminalization: 0.6%
  • Marijuana misdemeanor index: 0.1%
  • Mandatory minimums: 0.1%
  • Some sales legal: 0.1%
  • Salvia ban: 0.1%
Gambling: 1.9%
  • Gaming revenues: 1.8%
  • Gambling felony: 0.02%
  • Social gambling: 0.02%
  • Internet gaming prohibition: <0.01%
Asset forfeiture: 1.8%
  • Asset forfeiture law: 0.9%
  • Equitable sharing: 0.9%
Tobacco 1.7%
  • Cigarette tax: 1.3%
  • Smoking ban, bars: 0.3%
  • Internet purchase regulations: 0.06%
  • Smoking ban, private workplaces: 0.03%
  • Smoking ban, restaurants: 0.03%
  • Vending machine regulations: 0.03%
Travel freedom: 1.4%
  • Automated license plate readers: 0.4%
  • Driver’s licenses without Social Security number: 0.3%
  • Sobriety checkpoints: 0.2%
  • Seat belt laws: 0.2%
  • Fingerprint for driver’s license: 0.1% 
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage requirement: 0.1%
  • Motorcycle helmet law: 0.1%
  • Open-container law: 0.01%
  • Cell phone ban: 0.01%
Mala prohibita and civil liberties: 0.5%
  • Prostitution legal: 0.2%
  • Trans-fat bans: 0.1%
  • Raw milk legal: 0.1%
  • Mixed martial arts legal: 0.1%
  • Fireworks laws: 0.05%
  • Physician-assisted suicide legal: 0.03%
  • Equal rights amendment: 0.02%
  • DNA database index: 0.01%
  • Religious Freedom Restoration Act: 0.01%
Campaign finance: 0.1%
  • Individual contributions to candidates: 0.03%
  • Individual contributions to parties: 0.02%
  • Grassroots PAC contributions to candidates: 0.02%
  • Grassroots PAC contributions to parties: 0.01%
  • Public financing: <0.01%