In our more than 30 years of defending freedom, the Goldwater Institute has achieved more than 300 key victories in Arizona and across the country. Given that, the list of our successes could have easily been much, much longer. However, we believe the following “30 Milestones for 30 Years” is emblematic of the work we do and the hard-fought battles we’ve won. It is also a promise to our supporters that we will steadfastly continue our work for the next 30 years, as well as a warning to our opponents that we will never falter in the fight for freedom.
1. The Dawn of an Institution. With the Blessing of Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Institute opens its doors on the Fourth of July in 1988.
2. Cutting Taxes. Beginning in 1992, Arizona enjoyed a decade of new tax cuts every year thanks to the Institute’s research. “We really valued [the Goldwater Institute’s] input on tax cuts,” former Governor Fife Symington told the Arizona Republic in 2003. “They have produced some thorough, thoughtful, and provocative position papers.” Since then, tax reforms have become synonymous with the Institute.
3. Honoring Greatness. In 1993, the Institute introduces the Goldwater Award for lifelong service to liberty, recognizing the career of Jack Kemp. Subsequent award recipients include President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Clarence Thomas, Milton Friedman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Will, Peggy Noonan and, of course, Barry Goldwater himself.
4. The Birth of Charter Schools. The Institute issues the policy report Child-Centered School Funding in 1998, presenting for the first time a charter school funding model for Arizona. Today, charter schools serve 17 percent of the state’s public-school students, and 43 states plus Washington, D.C. have enacted charter school laws.
5. Open School Enrollment. In its continued push for school choice, the Institute plays a key role in Indiana’s adoption of mandatory open school enrollment in 2005, giving students and parents greater educational choices. Today, more than 20 states (including Arizona) have adopted such policies.
6. A Focus on Low-Income Children. In 2006, the Institute passes a groundbreaking corporate scholarship tax credit to help low-income children in Arizona access better educational opportunities. Many other states have since adopted tuition tax credit scholarship programs based on the Institute’s work.
7. The Gold Standard for Protecting Property Rights. The Institute develops Arizona’s revolutionary private property rights protection act, Proposition 207, which passes with 70 percent of voter support in 2006. Prop. 207 requires the government to reimburse property owners whenever government regulations cause property values to go down.
8. Litigating for Freedom. The Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation is established at the Institute in 2007, making Goldwater the first state-based free-market think tank to deploy a team of lawyers to enforce its policies in courtrooms across the country.
9. A Major Victory for Property Owners. In 2009, the Institute wins a major victory for hundreds of Arizona landowners in the west valley, who were suddenly told they could no longer build on, improve, or fix their properties. The Institute filed notice of Prop. 207 claims on their behalf, and days later Maricopa County backed down and eliminated the offending ordinance.
10. Protecting Taxpayers. Thanks to a 2010 lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of Phoenix taxpayers, the Arizona Supreme Court puts teeth back into the Gift Clause, a state constitutional provision that bars the government from using taxpayer dollars to subsidize private enterprises. In Turken v. Gordon, the court stated that such incentive deals are illegal.
11. The Origin of Education Savings Accounts. Continuing its tradition of strong school choice initiatives, the Institute enacts Empowerment Scholarship Accounts in Arizona in 2011, creating the nation’s first program of public contributions to education savings accounts for special needs students, giving those students and their families more opportunity to design educational experiences that work for them.
12. Free Speech Prevails in the U.S. Supreme Court. In a big win for free speech, the Goldwater Institute won McComish v. Bennett in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, eliminating matching funds from political campaigns, which were being used to dole out taxpayer dollars to candidates without voters’ consent.
13. A Slapshot for Taxpayers. In 2011, the Institute wins a key victory for taxpayers when it stops the city of Glendale from issuing $100 million in debt bonds to subsidize the private purchase of the Arizona Coyotes hockey team from the NHL by a Chicago investor.
14. Health Care Freedom Act. The Goldwater Institute led the charge in 2012 to establish the Health Care Freedom Act in 15 states, protecting taxpayers and employers from the higher taxes and insurance mandates buried in the so-called Affordable Care Act.
15. Eliminating the Capital Gains Tax. Continuing its longstanding commitment to lower taxes, the Institute passed a 2012 law to phase out the nefarious capital gains tax in Arizona, ensuring a more competitive tax climate in the state.
16. Enforcing the Arizona Constitution. The Institute wins a major victory for Arizona taxpayers by enforcing a state constitutional provision that prevents government from using bond debt for projects not approved by taxpayers. In 2011 and 2012, the Institute successfully challenged the misuse of funds in Friedman v. Cave Creek Unified School District, winning in state district and appellate courts. In 2013, the Arizona Supreme Court sided with the Institute, ensuring those key decisions would stand.
17. Defending Entrepreneurs. The Institute wins a victory for the right to earn a living in 2013, compelling the Arizona Board of Cosmetology to cease its attempts to needlessly regulate entrepreneurs. The Board targeted Lauren Boice, whose business provided athome cosmetology services to homebound elderly and ill clients. Inexplicably, the Board threatened to shut her down unless she opened a physical salon even though her homebound clients would never step foot inside.
18. A Blow to Special Interests. In 2015, the Goldwater Institute wins a victory for free speech in North Dakota by successfully challenging the state bar association, which was using its members’ dues to support political measures that many members disagreed with. Due to our litigation, the state bar grudgingly agreed to put procedures in place to protect its members from compelled speech. This victory sent an important signal that special interests cannot force people to support speech they disagree with as a condition to practice their chosen profession.
19. Courtroom Victories for School Choice. The Institute had seminal victories for school choice in 2015 by defeating legal challenges to Florida and Louisiana’s school choice programs. These rulings reinforced legal precedent from Arizona, and paved the way for greater school choice programs across the country.
20. Stopping Municipal Overreach. Due to the Institute’s dogged efforts, cities across Arizona no longer practice unfair local bid preference policies. Following the Institute’s success in Hirshman v. Rothschild in 2015, where an Arizona trial court struck down Tucson’s local bid preference law, several cities repealed their unconstitutional ordinances, saving taxpayer money and ensuring all businesses get a fair chance to compete for contracts.
21. Clamping Down on Government Agencies. The Institute passed legislation in 2015 that prohibits state agencies from adopting new rules that would increase regulatory burdens on property rights or the right to engage in a lawful business. This gamechanging reform can be exported to other states, and provides an indispensable weapon in the fight against agency overreach.
22. Standing Up for the Little Guy. In 2015, the Goldwater Institute ensures that a popular Mississippi doctor can continue to provide medical care to those who otherwise could not afford it. Dr. Carrol Landrum will continue to make house calls after the Institute cracks down on the state medical licensing board for demanding the surrender of his license for writing prescriptions from his car. This action set an important precedent that powerful licensing boards cannot abuse their powers or use threats to intimidate people into relinquishing their business licenses.
23. A Groundbreaking Homesharing Law. Building on its long history of making Arizona the best state in the country for property owners, the Goldwater Institute spearheads the adoption of one of the most sweeping property rights laws in the country, ensuring Arizona cities cannot turn property owners into outlaws simply because they allow guests to stay in their homes. Cities nationwide have responded to the growing popularity of services like Airbnb by threatening property rights and banning private rentals. Thanks to the Institute’s 2016 legislation, Arizona cities are prohibited from stifling private property rights.
24. Protecting the Rights of Businesses. In 2016, the Goldwater Institute successfully challenges a discriminatory Kentucky law that barred businesses from contributing to political committees, but allowed unions to do so. This victory will assist the Institute in striking down other state laws with inequitable campaign finance limits.
25. A Crack in Municipal Zoning Laws. Also in 2016, the Institute ensures the right of a Colorado entrepreneur to operate his windshield repair business. When businessman Rich Smith was convicted of the crime of operating a mobile windshield repair business, the Institute stepped in. Thanks to our defense, the City of Longmont dismisses all charges, and the city council reformed its zoning ordinances to allow mobile businesses. Across the country, local governments are using zoning laws to prevent individuals from earning an honest living. The Institute continues to defend against these attacks on free enterprise.
26. The American Freedom Network is Born. The Goldwater Institute establishes the American Freedom Network in 2017, a nationwide strike force of attorneys lending their skills, expertise, and interests to defend freedom at all levels of government. More than 130 attorneys have already joined the Network, handling more than a dozen cases of abuse across the country.
27. The Nation’s First Universal School Choice Program. The Institute spearheads the nation’s first functional universal education savings account program in 2017, providing universal school choice to all Arizona students. These accounts can be used to pay for alternative education options such as private schooling and other expenses that meet an individual child’s needs. Based on this success, several states are now in the process of adopting their own school choice programs across the country.
28. Restoring Free Speech on Campus. With the First Amendment under assault at college campuses across the country, North Carolina enacts the Goldwater Institute’s legislation to protect the free speech rights of college students in 2017. The University of Wisconsin also adopts similar policies based on our legislation. The new policy has already been successful: when protestors wanted to demonstrate against Second Amendment supporter and conservative author Katie Pavlich when she spoke at UWMadison, the demonstrators decided not to disrupt Pavlich’s talk, but instead kept their protest outside of the venue.
29. Defending the Right to Earn a Living. Arizona enacts the nation’s first Right to Earn a Living Act, a Goldwater Institute reform that ensures that free enterprise trumps government regulation so individuals can profit from their talents and labor. Under the 2017 law, state government must show some legitimate public harm before job seekers can be shut out of a profession. Arizona is now a model for states nationwide, protecting the notion that economic opportunity for all is not merely a promise, but a reality.
30. Free Speech in Medicine. The Institute wins a huge victory for patients and doctors in 2017 when Arizona becomes the first state to protect the free speech rights of those in the medical field to share information about effective alternative uses for FDA-approved medicines. This legislation stops the government practice of routinely censoring the communication of information that could help improve – and even save – people’s lives.
Bonus Milestone: Right to Try. In 2018, President Donald Trump signs Right to Try into law, a Goldwater Institute policy that protects terminally ill patients’ right to try medicines that have not yet been approved by the FDA for market. Forty-one states have also adopted Right to Try, which was crafted by the Goldwater Institute.
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