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Forum News Service, Published March 28 2013

Report calls North Dakota the freest state

GRAND FORKS - New Hampshire’s motto may be “Live free or die,” but North Dakota is better at letting people follow the first part of the credo, a new study claims.

According to a report issued each year by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., North Dakota is the freest of the 50 states, based on dozens of variables of personal, economic and regulatory factors.

“North Dakota, according to the freedom index, is the freest state in the United States,” according to the state’s summary in the report. “It scores exceptionally well on regulatory and fiscal policy. Moreover, North Dakota scores slightly above average on personal freedom.”

The state also ranked as the most improved on the index.

South Dakota was right behind its neighbor with a second-place rank, also showing strength in economic freedom.

Minnesota came closer to the unfree end of the spectrum at 34th place among the states. The report put its regulatory variables in the middle of the states, praised its court system but gave poor marks to its health and labor market freedoms.

Despite putting North Dakota first, the report recommended the state shrink its size of government, cut spending on parks and recreation, and end licensing requirements for massage therapists, makeup artists and bill collectors to broaden freedoms.