February 14, 2020
By Jennifer Tiedemann

While February 14 makes most Americans think of hearts, flowers, and candy, Arizonans think a little differently. Yes, February 14 is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also Arizona Statehood Day—Arizona became a state on this day in 1912, and so at the Goldwater Institute, we’re taking this February 14 to think about what makes our home state the special place it is.

Arizona is a very independent place with very independent-minded people—and as Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur wrote on In Defense of Liberty a couple years ago, it always has been: “Joining the union wasn’t easy for the Grand Canyon State—Congress rejected Arizona’s early attempts at statehood, and President William Howard Taft refused to approve the new state until Arizonans tailored their constitution to his liking. But Arizonans were eager to govern on their own terms. The very same year that Arizona was finally admitted as a state, voters changed their constitution back to its original form, much to the President’s chagrin.”

The Grand Canyon State continues to be imbued with this spirit, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that to this day, Arizona is a trailblazer in the fight to help Americans live their lives as they see fit. And in the last year alone, Arizona has made great strides for its people.

In 2019, Arizona led the nation on protecting people’s right to work, passing two important pieces of legislation that help Arizonans pursue their careers. Last April, Arizona passed a Goldwater Institute law that made it the first state in the country to recognize occupational licenses obtained out of state. And in the same month, Arizona removed the requirement that blow-dry salon workers—stylists who dry and style hair, but do not cut, perm, or permanently alter hair—must obtain a cosmetology license in order to do their job. This made Arizona just the second state in the nation—after Virginia—not to require a costly, time-consuming license for blow-dry stylists. (You can read more about the Goldwater Institute’s work to breaking down barriers to work here.)

And this leadership is not going unnoticed across the country. In fact, just last weekend at the National Governors’ Association Winter Meeting, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly complimented Arizona’s efforts to break down barriers to work in Arizona. “I’m very concerned about losing Kansas to Arizona,” Gov. Kelly said, because Arizona has made it easier to new residents to keep working after moving there. She continued that Kansas would be looking for ways to emulate Arizona’s efforts in this area. States across the country are looking to Arizona for its leadership, and in 2020, we’ll be looking for more states to follow the groundwork we’ve laid.

The words of Gov. Kelly and many others make it clear: Arizona sets an example that others admire and want to match. The Grand Canyon State has come a long way in 108 years, but just as it was back at the beginning, it remains a state that declares its independence from federal overreach and governs on its own terms—governs to give its people more control over their own lives. And the Goldwater Institute is proud to call Arizona our home and help make it a strong example for others to follow.

Jennifer Tiedemann is the Deputy Director of Communications at the Goldwater Institute.

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