New Year Brings New Laws To Arkansas

ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- The start of the new year brings with it new laws that are now in effect across the state of Arkansas.

Starting Jan. 1, all new or leased school buses are required to include seat belts. The law was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson earlier this year.

Fayetteville Public Schools got a jump start in November, when they bought 10 new buses with seat belts.

“It helps with the student management issues," said said Mike McClure, assistant director of transportation services for FPS. "We might have if students are sitting in their seat buckled up not moving around, not bothering other students."

The law could also require districts to install seat belts on every bus if 10 percent of a school district's electorate sign a petition to install seat belts. Parents who have talked to 5NEWS agreed that seat belts are a good idea.

“As a child, I grew up riding the bus and you never know what could happen," said Secrete Smith, the mother of a student at Butterfield Trail Elementary. "There could be an accident and the bus could flip over. I feel more comfortable with them being in a seat belt."

Another new law effects military retirees.

Now, in the state of Arkansas, no state income tax will be deducted from military retirement pay. That also includes a surviving spouse.

Arkansas is home about 22,000 military retirees.

Lawmakers and the governor hope this will not only keep veterans here, but attract others from out of state.

And another contentious law bans sex-selection abortions. Doctors are required to ask a woman if she knows the gender of her baby, before an abortion procedure.

Physicians who knowingly perform a sex-selection abortion could receive fines, a loss of license and even prison time.

Among other new laws are allowing expanded wine selections in local supermarkets and moving school elections to coincide with either primary or general elections.