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From Dismantling DEI to Safeguarding Right to Earn a Living, States Look to Goldwater

February 2, 2024

2024 legislative sessions are underway in dozens of states, and policymakers are once again looking to Arizona—and the Goldwater Institute—for proven solutions to fight government overreach in education, healthcare, and the economy.

Multiple bills have been introduced to halt the insidious creep of social justice agendas and “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) initiatives into K-12 classrooms and university campuses alike. Following the successful enactment of elements of the Goldwater Institute and the Manhattan Institute’s Abolish DEI Bureaucracies Act in Texas in 2023, a huge victory, other states are now considering similar reforms. Writing on the importance of the Texas reform, Goldwater’s Matt Beienburg noted that these kinds of actions “strike a double blow on behalf of taxpayers—not only rolling back the Administrative State in general, but also removing the epicenter of so much leftwing lunacy undermining intellectual diversity on college campuses.” OhioNebraska, and Missouri, among others, have introduced reforms based on Goldwater’s suite of DEI-eliminating legislative models.

Moreover, Goldwater’s Academic Transparency Act continues to lead in K-12 education policy, with versions introduced in West Virginia and Missouri, among other states. Designed to provide all parents with visibility into public classrooms, this commonsense reform requires public schools to post a list of all instructional materials and activities used during the year on a publicly accessible part of their website. This approach empowers parents by allowing them to see exactly what is being taught in the classroom, including supplemental materials that may not be a part of the approved curriculum. This is an essential policy for lawmakers who support education savings accounts (ESAs), as it gives parents even more information as they seek to find best-fit schools for their children.

Goldwater’s latest innovative healthcare reform, the Right to Try for Individualized Treatments Act, is also gaining traction, having been introduced in California and Maryland, with more states on the way. Already law in Arizona and Nevada, this reform creates a safe pathway for patients to work with their doctors to access cutting-edge, investigational treatments that are based on their individual genetics and designed to be as unique as they are. This is especially important for patients with rare or ultra-rare diseases for whom access to clinical trials is extremely limited, if available at all. As Delegate Matt Morgan of Maryland noted in a recent article explaining his support for the reform, “everyone deserves a fighting chance” to save their own lives.

As policymakers look to help families and communities nationwide, economic freedom reforms are top of mind. Goldwater’s landmark universal recognition reform, the Breaking Down Barriers to Work Act, is an essential reform to help level the licensing playing field for workers across the country. Now law in nearly half of states, this reform allows skilled professionals to use their out-of-state training and qualifications toward a license to work in their new state. Writing about the reform in Forbes, Americans for Tax Reform’s Patrick Gleason explains that recognition bills introduced in Florida and Nebraska provide opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to come together, noting that, “universal licensure continues to serve as a rare example of a meaningful reform where the two parties are coming together, in this case to remove barriers to employment that serve to raise consumer costs, while inhibiting job opportunities and worker mobility.”

In addition to licensing reform, Goldwater’s Home-Based Business Fairness Act is another pathway that state legislators are using to protect the right of all Americans to earn a living. Already law in Iowa and Missouri, this state-level reform allows hardworking Americans to run a no-impact small business from home without having to first jump through hoops to get a costly, time-consuming permission slip from their local government. Under this reform, localities are still allowed to protect clean, quiet neighborhoods and manage nuisance issues that may arise. This session, West VirginiaKentuckyIllinois, and Oklahoma are considering similar reforms—and policymakers everywhere should likewise consider this important policy.

While every state is unique and comes with different dynamics and political considerations, lawmakers can and should look to other states for inspiration and proven strategies to empower parents, protect patients, and spur economic growth.

Fortunately, many are looking to Arizona—and the Goldwater Institute—for just that.

Heather Curry is the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Goldwater Institute.



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