By Eric Stock
ARLINGTON, Va. - A recent study ranks Illinois at the bottom in legislating personal freedoms.
Jason Soren with the Mercatus Center, a liberatian think tank, said politicians on both ends of the political spectrum are to blame.
"It has by far the highest arrest rate for drug offenses in the country and has a high incarceration rate. It's just a law-and-order state combined with a liberal state that infringes on some of the freedoms that conservatives tend to like," Soren said.
Alaska is the state with the most personal freedom, according to the study, followed by Nevada. Illinois also got low marks for a heavy amount of regulatory policy, but the state ranks No. 27 in fiscal policy.
The study gave Illinois a No. 45 ranking overall, which is down from No. 43 in its last study done in 2011.
Co-Author William Ruger said the poor ranking means people are leaving in droves.
"Illinois in particular has really suffered in the sense that 5.2 percent of its 2000 population had left the state. That shows you that people are voting with their feet and are voting against Illinois' set of policies," Ruger said.
Ruger said people don't need to go too far if they want to get some of their freedoms back. Indiana ranks near the top of the list at number seven when it comes to personal freedoms and it's the only Rust Belt state that has seen a net gain in population since 2005.
Personal freedoms include things like gun control, gay marriage, tobacco laws, a high rate of victimless crimes, and even things like bans on trans-fats, which is up for debate in the legislature.
The study recommends Illinois decriminalize marijuana, legalize medical marijuana, and repeal the ban on the hallucinogenic herb Salvia. It also calls for Illinois to end partisan elections for the Illinois Supreme Court and reduce the state's pension liability.
You can see the full report at www.freedominthe50states.org.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metro News Service contributed to this report.