07/31/17  New State Laws Go Into Effect Tomorrow


Several new laws passed by the legislature go into effect tomorrow, for example a 75 mile per hour speed limit..Act 1097, by Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio allows the Arkansas Department of Transportation to raise speed limits to 75 miles per hour. Danny Straessle, department spokesman says his department is allowed to increase the speed limit but is not mandated to do so. Straessle said, if the department increases the speed limit it would likely be in rural areas such as I-49.

Beginning tomorrow, schools will no longer be in “academic distress”. Under Act 930 by Senator Jane English of North Little Rock, the state department of education has more flexibility in how to intervene in academically failing schools. Instead of an “academic distress” designation, failing schools will be assigned levels of assistance with varying roles for the state and the district. The act also allows the state to determine a school's success on measures beyond test scores.

Other laws that take effect tomorrow: charter schools would have first dibs on vacant school buildings; high school students would be required to take personal finance classes. Superintendents would be required to display “In God We Trust”, the national motto, in classrooms and libraries if funds are donated.

Another law would require schools carrying more than 20 percent of funds from one year to the next to spend the money or put it toward a construction fund. Another law requires high school students to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to earn their diplomas. And schools are required to increase minimum teacher salaries by $400.00 in each of two fiscal years, to end up at $31,800.00 a year.

A host of new criminal codes take effect tomorrow as well, for example, any  Arkansan caught riding shotgun with an open container of alcohol will find themselves subject to arrest and possible 30 days in the county jail. Other various activates made illegal starting tomorrow include: possessing a credit-card skimming device; improper usage of the state seal; sexual extortion and falsely claiming military service to receive a benefit.