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Defending the American Dream

Goldwater Institute leads the nation in defending the right to earn a living.

Too many Americans today are stopped from pursuing their American Dream. The government gets in their way, imposes strict regulations, requires costly licenses, and keeps them from starting a business or pursuing a profession, no matter how skilled they might be. Many are even fleeing cities and states with sky-high taxes and suffocating regulations for better opportunities and a lower cost in friendlier climes.

The Goldwater Institute’s leadership in its home state is a case in point on how states can open the door or more opportunities. We have worked hard to enact landmark reforms in Arizona to protect the right to earn a living, in what the The Wall Street Journal called “Arizona’s Licensing Liberation.” Now we’re using the example we have set in the Grand Canyon State as a roadmap for other states to follow.

In 2016, Goldwater developed the legislation that became Arizona’s Right to Earn a Living Act. The goal was to put an end to the unneeded, overly bureaucratic restraints that rob people of economic opportunity, often inflicting their greatest burdens on people with little wealth or political clout, thereby cutting off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. The law puts the onus on government to show that any regulation limiting participation in a job or profession is necessary to protect public health or safety. A version of Right to Earn a Living has also passed in Tennessee, and several other states’ legislatures are considering the measure.

Arizona took another step forward in April 2019 when it became the first state in the nation to eliminate an illogical requirement that has for too long held workers back. In every other state, a worker who holds a professional license in one state and then moves to another is forced to get permission from the government in order to get to work. That requires more study and training in order to do their same job in their new home. That’s costly, time-consuming, and irrational — and it’s no longer the law in Arizona, thanks to the Goldwater Institute.

But that’s not all. Just days later, Arizona became just the second state in the country — after Virginia — to free blow-dry salon professionals like Holli from the onerous requirement to get a license to do their job. The Goldwater Institute published a paper in 2019 that detailed the blow-dry salon problem and proposed a solution. We worked with Arizona legislators to change the law, and now, instead of requiring stylists to spend thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to earn a license that has nothing to do with protecting the public’s health and safety, they can get to work and earn a living without needing a government permission slip.

Today, Arizona is leading the nation in making needed reforms that expand opportunity for entrepreneurs and workers across the economic spectrum. More and more states will now follow the Goldwater Institute’s roadmap to opportunity by passing Right to Earn a Living and other model legislation — and our country’s entire workforce will be much better off because of it.

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Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

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