The new laws that were passed during the most recent Legislative session (the 91st General Assembly) just went into effect July 31, 2017. As a rule, passed and subsequently signed acts go into effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns.
New laws for 2017
The new laws range from legalizing daily fantasy sports games to higher fines for texting and driving. Here’s a brief summary with links for the full text of the new laws.
Act 1075: Daily fantasy sports games legalized in Arkansas
With Act 1075, Arkansas joined 10 other states by allowing and legalizing daily fantasy sports. In addition, the state will collect taxes on the popular sports game. Operators of the games will be taxed at 8 percent for any activity from Arkansas.
Act 706: First offense for texting while driving increases from warning to $250 fine
Act 706, also known as Paul’s Law, hopes to cut down on distracted driving by increasing the first offense from just a warning to a $250 fine. Each subsequent violation comes with a fine of no more than $500.
If a person pleads guilty to driving while texting that results in an accident or collision, the fine will be doubled.
Act 1116: Concerning the placement of juveniles
Act 1116 states that when either the Department of Human Services takes custody of a juvenile or that a court has deemed a child should be removed from a home, the department will attempt to relocate them with a relative.
This would allow for a non-custodial parent, grandparents, parents of the child’s sibling, or fictive kin such as godparents to take custody of the juvenile.
Act 1097: Allowing speed limit to be increased to 75 mph
Act 1097 allows the maximum speed limit in the state to change from 70 to 75 miles per hour while rural highways will go from 60 to 65. However, the change is up to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.
Act 566: Helping Our People Excel (H.O.P.E.) Act
Act 566 is a bi-partisan bill to assist formerly incarcerated people by allowing those with felony drug charges to apply for food stamps and putting a hold on fees while they are in prison or hospitalized.
Act 45, Act 603, Act 1018: Laws restricting abortion laws in Arkansas
The ACLU is currently challenging these three controversial abortion laws and a decision was made before they went into effect. A few days ago U.S. District Court Judge Kristin Baker issued a preliminary injunction against the new abortion restrictions.
Act 603 would have amended the current law (the Arkansas Final Disposition Rights Act of 2009) concerning the disposition of fetal remains. Critics have said the law would potentially require a woman to get permission from their male partner or worse, their rapist, before getting an abortion.
Act 45 would have put a ban on dilation and evacuation abortions in the state. Abortion-rights supporters contend it’s the safest and most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions.
Act 1018 would have required a physician performing an abortion on a person less than 17 to extract fetal tissue in accordance with rules adopted by the office of the State Crime Laboratory. Critics said it would create “new, invasive, and burdensome reporting requirements to local police for abortions obtained by young women.”
A fourth law, Act 733 looks to prevent sex discrimination of the fetus when a woman wants an abortion. This law is to take effect on January 1, 2018.
Act 849: Illegal to have open alcohol container in car
Act 849 makes it illegal for a person to have an open alcohol container that is “readily accessible” to the driver or a passenger. It is not illegal to have an open container outside of the passenger area of the vehicle.
Act 1071: Allow employees with concealed carry licenses to keep guns in car while at work
Act 1071 permits a concealed carry licensee to keep a concealed handgun in his or her employer’s parking lot.
Whether you agree with a particular new law or not, it is of great importance to understand, that in passing these new acts, our state peacefully engaged in the democratic ideals in which we all so firmly believe.
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Attribution: By Stuart Seeger [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons