Friday, February 8, 2013

Arkansas Legislation Update

Just twenty-five days into the 89th General Assembly's legislative session and there have been 265 House Bills and 256 Senate Bills introduced.  As of February 7, 65 Acts have been passed, most of which are appropriation Acts.  On a more substantive level, SB 12 (Act 39) and SB 56 (Act 42), related to sex offender registration and restrictions have become law.  Based on the legislation introduced thus far, I would expect the Governor to soon address whether to sign new gun carry and abortion restriction legislation in the couple of weeks.  

Several bills have already piqued my interest at this early stage of the legislative session and for various reasons.  These potential laws-to-be are arranged by subject matter, with full-text hyperlinks, below.  In no way is this an exhaustive list, but I believe it hits the highlights of the last four weeks.  Of course, if you are particularly affected, or offended, by these new bills, or see value or an absurdity that you would like to discuss, follow me on twitter or send me a comment to discuss in a later post.

Civil Procedure

SJR6:  This joint resolution would usurp control the court rule making authority from the Arkansas Supreme Court, and vest it to the state legislature.  Remember the concept of checks and balances?  This all but destroys it.  I will not let too many of my personal feelings get in the way of these posts, but, I can not help but disagree with the fundamental concept imposed by this resolution.  Even if your legislature passes the joint resolution, it still must be voted on by the citizens of Arkansas.

Property and Eminent Domain

HB 1139:  This bill requires public utility company seeking to acquire utility easement on the surface estate to provide 30 day notice of intent to the surface owner, and to follow land owner instructions on location of easement, regardless of cost to public utility.

High School Athletes

SB 203: As introduced, this bill limits high school student travel for conference athletic events during a school week.  The restrictions would keep a student from traveling more than 125 miles one way to play a conference game, with an exemption for a non-conference game or tournament.  The effect would legislate a school like Mountain Home out of its present conference and away from conferences that have schools with higher enrollment.

Miscellaneous Criminal Law

HB 1280:  This is a proposed law that would outlaw certain novelty lighters, i.e., lighters that both a) create fire and b) do something else, like play music, spin as a top, control the television, act as a belt buckle, etc.  

Automobile Insurance

SB 243: A proposed  law that would allow automobile drivers to display proof of insurance on their smart phone (rather than having to keep up with the paper version).  I could swear that this law was written with me in mind, and was also lobbied by my own insurance agent.  I pester him at least once a month for a fax copy of my insurance proof.

Golf Cart Law (there apparently is such a thing)

HB 1274: Allows municipalities to exclusively govern golf cart operation and use by amending a prior law.  The effect of the amendment would be to remove the restriction that the golf cart solely be used to travel to and from a residence to a golf course.  In essence, unless your municipality has a law or passes a law that addresses golf cart use, feel free to take it to work (so long as you aren't traveling down a county, state or federal road).  

Human Rights

SB 134:   This senate bill is a law that addresses several items to accomplish one goal--criminalizing an abortion when the fetus has a detectable heartbeat.  It includes provisions that require a doctor who performs abortions to conduct a check for a fetal heartbeat; providing written results to the patient; criminalizing a procedure for an abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat; requiring a patient to sign a written form of acknowledgment that she was informed that her fetus had a heartbeat; and attempting to minimize the unconstitutionality of the law by imposing a tolling provision.  

HB 1037:  House bill restricts an abortion 20 or more weeks after fertilization.

SB 170: Codify a law that explicitly states that a pregnant woman may use deadly force to protect her unborn child from violent acts against her or the child.

Guns

HB 1035 and HB 1243:  Allows trained staff and faculty to carry a firearm on public and private Arkansas college, university or community college campuses in certain (most) situations.

SB 71: "Church Protection of Act of 2013."  Churches can determine whether to allow members to carry firearms.

HB 1014: Extends concealed handgun license exemptions to former law enforcement officers.

SB 131: Exempts those who have applied for concealed handgun carry licenses to be exempt their name and zip code from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

HB 1231: Allows the school districts to contract with an existing school employee to provide armed security to the school.

HB 1269: Allows those with concealed handgun carry licenses to keep handgun in vehicle while parked at work.

Capital Punishment

SB 73: Last year, Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-617, proscribing the procedures for capital punishment and execution of inmates was ruled unconstitutional.  This bill would remove the offensive language regarding the unfettered discretion of chemicals and procedure for use by the director of the Department of Correction.  Now, the director is authorized to select only those chemicals delineated. 

Scrap Metal 

SB 238:  Amends the record keeping requirements of scrap metal business owners.  No longer required to keep a digital thumbprint for every scrap metal seller, but the scrap metal business must keep track of serial numbers and other identification information on the acquired scrap.

Marriage

SB 256: Permits one to use an Arkansas marriage license outside of the state for purposes of solemnization of the marriage.  Essentially, an Arkansas resident can apply for a license in Arkansas, and use the license across the border to become married in another jurisdiction, so long as the officiant is authorized to conduct the service in the foreign jurisdiction.  The officiant must execute the proper form, which is to be filed in the county where the license was obtained.  

Garnishments and Collections

HB 1264:  Alters the statutory time to respond to a writ of garnishment from 20 days to 30 days, which corresponds to the number of days required to file an answer under the rules of civil procedure.  This makes complete sense, especially since some banks or employers have garnishment departments that are located outside of the state.

Probate, Wills and Trusts

HB 1265: Adopts a specific form for use when publishing notice of an Affidavit for the Collection of Small Estate.  This is nice added touch of clarity to the existing law, but it would be nice if the legislature would clarify if the small estate affidavit was a "probate" proceeding for the purposes of devising property, especially real estate, to a devisee.

Environmental Law

HB 1036: Prohibits certain stores, like grocery and convenience stores, from sacking groceries and other store-bought items with single use, plastic, "Wal-mart" type bags at the point of sale. Interestingly enough, "single use" is defined to mean less than one-hundred uses.  More importantly, if this bill passes, I will have to resort to using actual garbage bags for my bathroom garbage cans.  Although this law would act as a prohibition on the use of single use bags, there are no penalties or repercussions for a company that violates the law.

Cows and Chickens

SB 14: Mess with cows and chickens and be subject to a Class A misdemeanor.

Transportation and Driving

HB 1031:  Introduced by the same representative who represented HB 1036, this bill would reduce the number of people required to sign a petition supporting the construction of a race car track in any given county (thereby increasing the likelihood of a race track being constructed, increasing pollution, etc.)

HB 1180:  criminalizes unnecessary driving in the left-hand lane of a multilane highway, resulting in a $100.00 fine.  If only this law could also extend to shopping malls, airports, jogging tracks.

C. Michael Daily is an attorney with the long-established law firm of Daily & Woods, P.L.L.C.  Mr. Daily can be contacted by telephone at 479-242-3953, by email at mdaily@dailywoods.com, or by regular post at 58 South 6th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72902.  You can follow Mr. Daily via social network using any of the social network links in the right hand column of the page.  Disclaimer:  This blog is for informational purposesis certainly not to be considered legal advice and is absolutely not substitute for any of the benefits that are associated with the attorney-client relationship.