Alaska Flag pic

In a new report analyzing fiscal, regulatory and personal freedoms across all 50 states, Alaska came in 24th, a drop from 14th place in 2016. The annual publication, “Freedom in the 50 States,” is issued by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that promotes individual liberty, limited government and free markets.

The 2021 report, which covers up through the start of 2020, notes that Alaska is a difficult state to score due to its heavy dependence on oil and gas – notoriously fluctuating financial assets that can greatly impact fiscal policy.

Overall, Alaska received high marks for freedom in several areas: robust homeschooling liberties, strong 2nd Amendment rights, low drug arrests and limited taxation. The report’s authors say Alaska is among the most libertarian states, and one which typically scores well on personal freedom markers.

Cato advises Alaska enact a right-to-work law to attract manufacturing investment, and recommends reforming asset forfeiture to require a criminal conviction before forfeiture.

Cato notes that Alaska’s drug arrests are “quite low,” crime-adjusted incarceration is below the national average, marijuana is legal, and homeschooling is unregulated. Additionally, the report states, “gun rights are secure (for instance, concealed carry of handguns does not require a license).”

Regarding civil asset forfeiture, however, Alaska is “among the worst in the country,” the report claims.

Law enforcement officers and agents utilize civil asset forfeiture to seize property or money of those suspected of committing crimes. These individuals need not be arraigned or convicted. Rather, probable cause is enough to seize their property. Libertarians say this practice ensnares people who have not been charged or convicted of crimes. Advocates of civil asset forfeiture argue that it is a key tool in fighting crime, as it deprives criminals of needed resources to operate outside the law.

In Alaska, the “burden of proof is on the owner of the property to prove innocence, property is subject to forfeiture from mere probable cause, and the proceeds largely go to law enforcement,” the Cato report states.

Cato also gives Alaska low marks regarding the freedom to sell alcohol.

“Sales of all alcohol, even beer, are prohibited in grocery stores,” the report observes. “Alcohol taxes, especially for beer, are also among the highest in the country.”

Additionally, Cato gives Alaska low marks with regard to gambling freedom, and its high cigarette taxes. The report is also critical of Alaska’s regulatory policies, claiming the state’s labor market is “far more regulated than one would expect for such a conservative state.”

“There is no right-to-work law; the state has strict workers’ compensation mandates and a high minimum wage ($10.34 per hour in 2020),” the report notes. “Many occupations are licensed in Anchorage and Fairbanks, where about half of the state’s population lives. On the one hand, insurance is pretty heavily regulated. On the other hand, Alaska gives a good bit of practice freedom to nurses and dental hygienists, does not zone out low-cost housing, and has one of the nation’s best civil liability systems…”

Cato recommends Alaska cut spending in the areas of “grossest overspending relative to national averages.” This includes education, corrections, administration (especially financial administration and public buildings), housing and community development spending, and “miscellaneous commercial activities.”

“Use the proceeds to reduce the corporate income tax permanently, helping the economy diversify away from energy,” the report advises.

Cato advises Alaska enact a right-to-work law to attract manufacturing investment, and recommends reforming asset forfeiture to require a criminal conviction before forfeiture.

States with the highest freedom scores from Cato were New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada. The worst were New York, Hawaii and California. Read the full report here.

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Alaska ranked 24th freest state by libertarian think tank

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    So it’s clear we Alaskans are the BIG losers since 2016 by 10% points ! Walker, & Dunleavy have been a failure ! PLEASE ALASKANS WAKE UP!

  • kris spencer says:

    24th out of 50 is surprising for AK. We need to do better.

  • Kim says:

    Obviously the “think tank” has never been to Alaska. Cutting funding for schools and communities to pay off manufacturing companies is idiotic when transporting any significant amount of product would be cost prohibitive, if it was even possible. These people should know that you can’t apply the same cookie cutter to every single state in this manner.

  • Amy says:

    Hey. So Joel. This has nothing to do with the article at hand but the article you wrote about a female OBGYN doctor (whom you failed to mention her credentials), and Fairbanks school board providing false information and blatantly lying about what this woman does on YouTube.

    How about you address that? And make sure your articles are legit?

    I hope that she decides to sue. Because you and The Daily Minor have Alaska a very bad name by publishing an article without researching.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Cato Institure.
    Ill informed Swamp creatures.
    New Hampshire is freer than Alaska.
    Covid Nazies.

  • jh says:

    Winston Churchill said, “If you do not feel a liberal in your youth, you don’t have a heart.
    If you are still a liberal after the age of 30, you don’t have a brain.”

  • hj says:

    Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Idaho, and Nevada. Almost all of those states red states.

  • jh says:

    Republican Stronghold States
    Nevada????? might be turning blue
    North Dakota
    North Carolina
    South Carolina
    South Dakota
    West Virginia

  • kingdom of Heaven says:

    Read what happened to chris Ripple in Fairbanks who had gotten Allodial Patent but still drive from his land and called a terrorist, still persecuted til this day. Wake up and ask yourself who you are a slave to and the perception of “ownership”

  • hj says:


  • HJ says: