Lacking an individual income tax and featuring a hot climate, Florida has long enjoyed substantial migration of well-off retirees. Its personal freedom has lagged well behind, however. Florida’s state-level tax collections are more than a standard deviation below the national average, while its local tax collections are about average. Despite the temptations posed by high housing demand, homeowners have been unable to enact exclusionary zoning on anything like the levels of California or New Hampshire. Florida has gone further than just about any other state to tighten criteria for eminent domain. Labor law is also above average because of a right-to-work law, though the state does have a minimum wage. Florida is also one of the top states for educational freedom, although homeschool regulations remain substantial. Anyone who has ever visited Florida is also aware of how lightly regulated alcohol is, appearing in theme parks, grocery stores, and even small take out places.
On personal freedom, Florida now appears well below average, only boosted by the supreme court’s decision to legalize gay marriage nation wide. Before that decision, Florida did not recognize any kind of same-sex partnership and banned private contracts amounting to marriage with a super-DOMA and was also one of the only states to have a sodomy law before Lawrence v. Texas. Florida’s crime-adjusted incarceration rate has risen over time and is now above average, even as its arrest rates for victimless crimes have fallen substantially. In addition to all of this, gun rights are mediocre, as the state has waiting periods for some weapons, local dealer licensing, stricter-than-federal minimum age for possession, and virtually no open carry.