LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Aug. 1 several new laws will go into effect in Arkansas.
The date marks 91 days since the adjournment of the state legislature. The laws passed by the legislature without a date clause go into effect on Aug. 1.
This is a partial list of the 890 laws passed out of the 94th General Assembly, which cover the routine acts of government, budget appropriations, and that kind of thing. But this is an overview of those which will make life different for the average resident of the Natural State.
CONCEALED CARRY WILL BE DIFFERENT
The legislature ensured it was clear that you did not need a license to conceal carry in Arkansas. Act 777 states that the purpose of a concealed carry license is to provide reciprocity in other states that require a concealed carry license.
A second action was ACT 757, which created a law that having a medical marijuana license does not keep someone from having a concealed carry license. This may wind up in court since it goes against federal law.
The legislature also passed laws broadening permissions to concealed carry, such as allowing it for bomb squad members.
LAWS FOR DRIVING SAFETY
Effective Aug. 1, it is against the law to pass a car on the left when they have signaled to make a left turn.
If someone is distracted by using what Act 445 calls a wireless communications device and gets into an accident, the investigating law enforcement officer must note that on the accident report.
And now, if someone is racing on a public highway, their car may be impounded.
And automated enforcement will now take place in highway work zones, meaning you can get a ticket for speeding in a work zone without a police officer being on-site.
And those paper temporary plates on a newly-purchased car are good for up to 60 days, doubling the previous 30-day limit.
ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION NOW HAS BROADER MEANING
Samples at tasting events will now double in size thanks to Act 319, while permit fees for tasting events have been halved.
Machines may now be used to dispense drinks for on-premises consumption. Presumably, this is for touch-screen automated serving machines used by servers.
Alcohol may now be sold in state parks, and a third-party vendor may now serve drinks for on-premises consumption without requiring a permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division with the passage of Act 655.
Several laws were passed easing the permit process for serving or manufacturing alcohol.
ACCESS TO ABORTION MORE TIGHTLY REGULATED
A year after Arkansas put into law some of the strictest restrictions on abortion in the nation, the legislature passe additional laws on abortion access.
An abortion provider must give a woman an ultrasound and describe what is being displayed when doing so. Act 559 also requires the ultrasound operator to advise a woman if the embryo or fetus is dead.
If a doctor does not comply with the specifics of the state’s 2016 Abortion Inducing Drugs Safety Act, they are now subject to losing their medical license according to Act 702.
The 2021 Every Mom Matters Act has been transferred from the Department of Health to the Department of Human Services. The same update via Act 703 clarifies that it is to provide telehealth support and outreach to promote healthy childbirth.
An abortion to save a pregnant woman’s life shall only be done in a hospital or emergency room under Act 848.
Public or open-enrollment charter schools may not provide abortion referrals under Act 653.
OTHER INTERESTING CHANGES
Other new laws that could impact life in the Natural State:
The legislature had passed Act 851, which prohibits local governments from creating regulations to regulate often-noisy crypto mining.
During the interim, several cities have been working to put crypto regulations into effect before the Aug. 1 date when Act 851 becomes law.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND GOVERNANCE
The state treasurer is now required to divest the state of any investments through organizations that use environmental, social justice or governance scores in their strategies. The example used in Act 411 is if an investment firm discriminates against energy companies or firearms entities, the state should end its relationship with that firm.
Act 411 creates an ESG Oversight Committee and a second act, 760, clarifies that committee’s role in determining which firms are using ESG. That list of those firms will be published on the treasurer’s website and a public entity may not do business with a listed firm.
Act 477 requires the state Economic Development Commission to either conduct or hire a third party to conduct a feasibility study of an Arkansas spaceport. The study must be completed by Jan. 1, 2024, provided funding is available.
A complete list of laws passed during the 94th General Assembly may be found on the Arkansas State Legislature website.