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Week in Review: A Lifeline for Arizona Families

July 18, 2020

“[Having an] ESA saved my son from a path that would have compromised him on a systemic level, ultimately hindering his ability to pursue secondary education, sustainable employment, and independent living.” These are the words of one Arizona mom whose family has made use of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. This program—a solution designed at the Goldwater Institute in 2011—has given more than 7,000 students and their families a lifeline to educational opportunity outside traditional public schools.

How do ESAs work? The state deposits funds into flexible savings accounts families can use to provide personalized instruction and special needs therapies for their kids, helping to given these students an education that meets their unique needs. Having an ESA has been a game-changer for families like Prisca Walton’s. At an 18-month checkup, Prisca was told that her two young children were at risk for autism. But an ESA has made it possible for her to provide them with tools to help them learn and do better, she says. (You can learn more about Prisca’s story here.)

After years of politically motivated attacks on them and their families, a massive breach of their privacy this spring, and administrative failures by state agency employees, many ESA families are standing up on behalf of their kids. This week, the Arizona State Board of Education hosted a public hearing on the state’s ESA program, and dozens of parents piped in to the board’s virtual hearing to share their stories and suggestions for strengthening and improving the program. You can read some of their thoughts at In Defense of Liberty.

Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg also provided testimony about the state’s poor management of the program—you can read that full testimony here. To learn more about what the Goldwater Institute is doing to defend families’ right to give their kids a better education, visit

Music City Opens Its Doors to Home-Based Businesses

Nashville entrepreneurs got some great news this week: The Metro Nashville Council voted to lift the city’s unreasonable ban on home-based businesses.

Our friends at the Beacon Center of Tennessee and the Institute for Justice had led the charge to end this ban, which had outlawed most types of home-based businesses—even if those businesses followed applicable health and safety standards and operated without disturbing their neighbors. “That’s unreasonable during normal times, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to earn a living from home is even more critical,” writes Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur at In Defense of Liberty.

Nashville’s move is music to residents’ ears, but in too many places across the country, cities are still applying outmoded zoning, licensing, and permitting requirements that get in the way people’s ability to work from home. What can be done about this? State legislators should work to enact the Goldwater Institute’s Home-Based Business Fairness Act, which protects people’s right to work from home so long as they aren’t harming their neighbors or disrupting the residential area. This Act “empowers individuals to earn an honest living without costing taxpayers a dime,” Sandefur says. Read more about Nashville’s positive step—and how Goldwater’s law can help more cities follow suit—here.

Looking Back at the Supreme Court’s 2019-2020 Term

The U.S. Supreme Court just finished up an unusual term with some blockbuster decisions on a wide range of subjects. And not only did these decisions set important precedent on a wide range of subjects, they also indicated some major differences in the ways the Justices interpret laws.

This past week, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur and Director of National Litigation Jon Riches led an informative Goldwater teleforum looking back at the Supreme Court’s 2019-2020 term—and looking ahead to what’s next for the Court. Learn more about the teleforum at In Defense of Liberty—and you can watch the full teleforum above.

ENDS FRIDAY!: Vote Now for the SPN Bob Williams Awards

State Policy Network’s Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement honor the most exceptional efforts from state think tanks across the country to help more Americans through free market solutions. We’re happy to announce that the Goldwater Institute’s work to break down barriers to work is a finalist this year, in the category of Biggest Win!

Since Arizona became the first state to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses a year ago, ten other states have followed suit, passing their own versions of this Goldwater-led reform. In Arizona alone, more than 1,100 residents have applied for and been granted a license to work based on their out-of-state training and qualifications.

Everyone is invited to cast their vote for the award winners by this Friday (July 24). We hope you’ll consider voting for us here.



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