Four years ago, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) set an ambitious goal to recruit 250 state legislators to be Hazlitt Coalition members focused on passing pro-liberty legislation in state legislatures across the country. With good old-fashioned shoe leather and knocking on millions of doors in an initiative called “Operation Win at the Door,” YAL exceeded that goal by building a coalition of 300 state legislators in nearly 40 states following the 2022 midterms.
In recent years, YAL-recruited students have made almost six million phone calls and knocked on nearly four million doors in support of Hazlitt members, delivering the message of liberty directly to American voters. CEO Lauren Daugherty tells PJ Media that YAL’s grassroots efforts will have far-reaching consequences across America.
Daugherty notes that in 2021, legislation sponsored by members of the Hazlitt Coalition and supported by YAL and its thousands of student activists made 88 million Americans more free. This year, YAL’s Hazlitt Coalition and its allies have helped make over 91 million Americans more free via pro-liberty legislation. The program is also building a bench of pro-liberty legislators for higher office. This year, the first Hazlitt member will head to Washington, D.C., to serve in the House of Representatives. Former Missouri State Senator Eric Burlison will represent the 7th congressional district in the 2023 freshman class.
Three other Hazlitt legislators won statewide office in the midterm elections. Andrew Sorrell won as State Auditor in Alabama, Andy Matthews will become Nevada’s State Comptroller, and Chuck Gray will serve as Wyoming’s Secretary of State. Daugherty said building a bench is great, and YAL is proud of the members who ran for higher office. However, the legislative output at the state level is what YAL primarily focuses on.
Since 2020, YAL’s Hazlitt Coalition passed 24 bills in 10 states related to COVID-19 or healthcare freedom. One example of a recent win related to COVID is legislation passed in Arizona. State Rep. Shawnna Bolick proposed legislation prohibiting hospitals from barring family and clergy from visiting patients during a health emergency. Daugherty acknowledges that a few years ago, no one would have seen a reason to pass a law like this. “However, COVID taught us differently,” she added.
In New Hampshire, one-third of the legislation to reign in COVID overreach was promoted and supported by YAL. There are 59 members of the Hazlitt Coalition in the state’s House of Representatives, and they sponsored or co-sponsored all eight of the bills. Rep. Leah Cushman sponsored two. One prohibited healthcare providers from refusing service based on a patient’s vaccination status. In a press release provided to PJ Media by YAL, Cushman said, “As a registered nurse and mother, medical freedom is an issue that’s close to home for me. From birth to death, vaccines to vasectomies, it’s critical that all people have autonomy over their own medical decisions at all times. Much of what we have done this session in the New Hampshire House has been to fortify and expand choice for Granite Staters when it comes to their health.”
While healthcare freedom has been a significant focus, YAL continues to work on expanding other freedoms as well. Another recent win of which Daugherty is proud is the passage of constitutional carry in Indiana. Rep. Curt Nisly had proposed the legislation during several sessions, and it died on the floor. But then YAL’s PAC advanced candidates to support Nisly’s legislative push, and the grassroots group knocked on doors to educate voters and build public support.
Shortly after the law passed, an armed bystander exercising his right to constitutional carry took out a mass shooter in an Indiana mall. The shooter had three guns and 100 rounds of ammunition. He was taken out in approximately 15 seconds by Elisjsha Dicken, 22. Law enforcement believes that Dicken saved many lives that day, and so does Daugherty. Just as important, she believes his actions will deter future shooters. “This served as a powerful deterrent to other bad guys who look to take advantage of gun-free zones in Indiana,” she said.
So, despite the press after the election about Gen Z and their allegiance to Democrats, there are still liberty-minded young adults on campuses across the country. When properly trained and activated, they can deliver amazing results. “We mobilize dedicated pro-liberty students at the state level where we can have a significant impact very efficiently,” Daugherty said. “COVID overreach has activated so many people. Whether it is school closures, medical freedom, vaccine mandates, or forced business closures, it is hard to believe these things happened in the United States. However, since most of these rules were made at the state level, it has redoubled our confidence in the state-led model,” she added.