Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TN is 7th Freest State, #8 Economic, #18 personal

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Tennessee (#8 economic, #18 personal, #7 overall) is, along with Virginia, one of the freest states in the South. By one of our measures, Tennessee’s overall tax burden is the lowest in the country (6.8% of corrected GSP). The government debt ratio is also extremely low. Along with West Virginia, Tennessee also has the best gun control laws in the South. However, taxes on alcohol—particularly wine—are quite high. The first offense of marijuana possession is always a misdemeanor, but otherwise the state has fairly harsh marijuana laws. The state is one of three not to require auto liability insurance (permitting self-insurance instead), but it has sobriety checkpoints, primary seat-belt enforcement, and helmet laws for motor- and bicyclists. Gambling is highly controlled; Tennessee is one of just three states to prohibit even charitable gaming. The state also falls somewhat short on education, with mandatory kindergarten, mandatory registration of private schools, and burdensome notification requirements for home schoolers. Labor laws are above average, but health insurance laws are mediocre. Occupational licensing has gone way too far. Eminent domain has not really been reformed. The state has low cigarette taxes and no smoking bans on private property.