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Week in Review: How Congress Plans to Eviscerate Free Speech

March 6, 2021

In the first act of Congress under the Biden Administration, the freedom of speech is under attack. The deceptively named “For the People Act” (H.R. 1 and S. 1) purportedly protects Americans’ voting rights by imposing sweeping federal mandates over locally managed state elections. As dangerous as that is, tucked inside the nearly 800-page bill is a Trojan Horse that will eviscerate the First Amendment by forcing non-profits to publicly disclose private information about their donors — discouraging people from speaking and supporting organizations like the Goldwater Institute.

Long a top priority of the left, this anti-speech assault is designed to eliminate opposition to a radical policy agenda that would transform America. As former Vice President Mike Pence wrote, “Every single proposed change in H.R. 1 serves one goal, and one goal only: to give leftists a permanent, unfair, and unconstitutional advantage in our political system.”  

The Goldwater Institute co-signed a letter to Congress strongly condemning the proposed legislation, and is taking action to defend donor privacy and the freedom of speech. Goldwater’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation has filed lawsuits against cities including Denver and Santa Fe challenging local ordinances that mandate the disclosure of donor information. In 2018, Arizona enacted a Goldwater Institute law that preempts cities from demanding lists of nonprofit donors, thereby boosting privacy protections for nonprofits and nonprofit donors.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is poised to decide a crucial case involving the privacy rights of people who donate to nonprofit groups. In a brief filed last month, the Goldwater Institute and the Rio Grande Foundation argue that a California rule that forces nonprofit groups to turn over confidential donor information to the state violates the First Amendment by exposing donors to retaliation and even violence.

You can read more about that case here and the Goldwater Institute’s letter to Congress condemning the “For the People Act” here.

Goldwater’s Challenge to Prop. 208 Mega Tax Heads to the AZ Supreme Court

On Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court announced that it will immediately hear the constitutional challenge to Proposition 208 brought by a group of legislators and taxpayers represented by the Goldwater Institute. This is great news for Arizonans, because Prop. 208 has already proven to be one of the most egregious tax increases in state history.

Passed in November, Proposition 208 imposes an additional 3.5% income tax on individuals making more than $250,000 per year. As outlined in a Goldwater report released last fall, job losses caused by Prop. 208 will reach a minimum of 124,000 over the course of 10 years—four times greater than the losses experienced during the economic downturn of 2001.

And those estimates are already starting to come to fruition. The Prop. 208 tax increase falls especially hard on Arizona’s small business owners—to the point that some entrepreneurs believe that it’s best to operate their businesses outside the Grand Canyon State. And of course, as small business owners leave the state, the jobs created by their businesses leave with them. Take, for instance, the story of Arizona business owner Matt Boyle, who has decided to move the headquarters of his company, Landmark Recovery, out of Scottsdale to Nashville, along with the 100 jobs that will also be leaving Arizona. In short, Prop. 208 is a path to less opportunity for Arizonans.

Our lawsuit argues that the initiative—which levies the largest tax increase in Arizona history—violates the state Constitution’s rules for adopting tax increases, because it did not receive a vote of two-thirds of elected lawmakers. The Court announced that it will hear arguments in the case on April 20. You can read more about the case here.

Mississippi Follows Goldwater’s Lead in Breaking Down Barriers to Work

Imagine spending 1,000 hours of your life pursuing the skills and experience necessary to obtain a license to work in your dream job. You’ve completed the education, you’ve taken the exam, and you’ve been working in your field, contributing your talent and dedication to providing for your family and making your community a better place. Now, imagine relocating from one state to another only to find that all that hard work was for nothing. Unfortunately, this is the reality facing many Americans who work in one of the numerous careers that require an occupational license.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. The Mississippi legislature is currently considering a reform based on the Goldwater Institute’s Breaking Down Barriers to Work Act, landmark legislation that recognizes the out-of-state training and qualifications of America’s skilled workforce.

Why does this reform matter? Currently, one in four jobs in America requires an occupational license—a government permission slip to work. Licensure impacts a variety of fields, including barbers, real estate agents, architects, physicians, tree trimmers, and mechanical engineers, among others. In many states, regulatory disparities mean out-of-state applicants are forced to spend extra time and money to complete additional testing or training requirements just to be relicensed to do the same job they’ve already been doing.

Read more about Mississippi’s move to break down barriers to work here.

Goldwater Champions Education at the Arizona State Capitol

This week, Goldwater’s Timothy Sandefur spoke at Arizona Families for Home Education’s Homeschool Day at the Arizona State Capitol. Sandefur spoke about how students have stood up for their rights when schools have violated those rights, setting important precedents that protect the rights of all of us.



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