Since Libertas Institute was founded by Connor Boyack in 2011, the organization has been pivotal in ushering through dozens of freedom-oriented reforms in its home state of Utah. Building on that policy success, the team recently started working with Atlas Network partners, other like-minded organizations, and individual lawmakers to help promote similar reforms in other states. The policies that Libertas is disseminating throughout the country include:
- Digital data privacy reform: requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant to access digital data
- Implementation of a regulatory sandbox: allowing innovators and entrepreneurs to be temporarily shielded from punishment for conflicting with a law or regulation
- Free-range parenting: allowing parents to grant their children a reasonable amount of independence
- Lemonade stand laws: banning local governments from requiring lemonade stand entrepreneurs to obtain a business license
- Banning home business licenses: removing licensing requirements for remote businesses (language provided by the Goldwater Institute)
- Food truck freedom: removing red-tape and reducing compliance costs for food trucks (language provided by the Institute for Justice)
Libertas works with local stakeholders, including several other Atlas Network partners, offering research, strategic advice, and model legislation to state lawmakers and advocacy organizations to propose in their governing bodies. “Possessing model legislation is crucial when approaching interested groups and legislators about the reforms we’d like to see in their states,” explained Libertas’ director of state government affairs, Rees Empey. “Once we’ve piqued their interest, they’re quick to ask for model language, and having much of the work done is another way for Libertas to display our value and commitment to work with our partners on these important issues.”
By engaging with local groups and being flexible in each state’s unique landscape, Libertas has been effective at seeing many of its proposals gain mainstream appeal. Since the team began this initiative in early 2020, they have been involved with 45 introduced bills across the country and anticipate over a dozen policy victories this year. Several partners have already succeeded with a lemonade stand law, a fintech regulatory sandbox, and a data privacy constitutional amendment.
“Libertas’ role largely depends on what our partners in the state require,” continued Empey. “After educating interested parties on the issue, some will only request model legislation while others may request one-pagers, our thoughts on their educational materials, strategic input, and education outreach to members of their state legislature.”
Having local allies on the ground has been critical to Libertas’ expansion outside of Utah and has opened the door for further collaboration down the road. As Empey concluded, “We have been able to network with a number of Atlas Network partners who are eager to work on these policies. After discussing the reforms we’re interested in bringing to their states, we encourage them to choose what they want to work on. We also take advantage of these relationships to see if these other groups have any innovative reforms they could share with us to bring to our own state.”
This initiative truly underscores the benefit of collaboration and highlights the integral role that Atlas Network partners play in policy reform in the United States. Alongside other partners promoting reforms countrywide, including the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Goldwater Institute, and the Institute for Justice, Libertas Institute has helped equip local lawmakers and advocacy groups with the tools they need to enact real change.
Atlas Network supported this initiative with a grant from the 2019 Smart Bets competition.