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Nevada ranks 6th in economic and personal freedoms in new Mercatus study


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Nevada ranks 6th among the states in a new index generated by the Mercatus Center called “Freedom in the 50 States, An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom.”

The study by Jason Sorens and William Ruger, released earlier this week, comprehensively ranks the states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. It updates, expands, and improves upon an inaugural 2009 Freedom in the 50 States study.

The new edition includes more policy variables, such as bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, and improved existing measures such as those asset-forfeiture rules.

New Hampshire was ranked first in the study, with New York coming in last.

Nevada earned 16th place in terms of economic freedom, and 3rd for personal freedom, to give it the 6th place ranking overall.

Of Nevada, the study says: “Nevada starts out with the obvious advantages of the most liberal gaming regime in the country (but an Internet-gaming ban) and local-option prostitution. On fiscal policy the state is better than average, but in less visible ways, since spending and taxation are only slightly better than average.”

The study also found that Nevada’s gun laws are ” fairly relaxed, and marijuana laws are better than average. . .”

But health insurance coverage mandates are worse than average, the study notes.

The study’s policy recommendations for Nevada include repealing health-insurance coverage mandates such as coverage for prostate screening, mammograms, the HPV vaccine and hospice care. Other recommendations include deregulating private schools and allowing the minimum wage to revert to the federal standard.

State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, proposed a constitutional amendment in the just concluded 2011 legislative session to begin the process of asking the voters to repeal the state’s minimum wage law, but the measure did not get a vote in committee.

The Nevada Legislature also took up the issue of trans fats in the public schools, but Senate Bill 230 died in the Assembly in late May.

An effort was also made to undo Nevada’s Internet gaming ban, but the issue got mired in a scandal involving PokerStars, the company seeking to win the right to have internet gaming within Nevada’s borders. A watered down version of the bill was passed and is on the governor’s desk.

The Mercatus Center is a university-based research center located at George Mason University.

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