Spate of new laws affecting residents in numerous ways

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

As of Tuesday, Arkansans can lawfully take place in a bingo game, use deadly force if threatened around their home, and mothers can breastfeed their children in public without being charged with indecent exposure.

However, new state laws also state that drivers must use a turn signal when changing lanes, dog owners can be charged with a crime if their dogs attack a person, and scrap recyclers are required to keep records of the people who sell them metals.

These laws took effect Tuesday, along with more than 600 others, because Arkansas laws come into effect 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns, if they do not have a specific effective date or an emergency clause attached.

The last legislative session ended May 1.

For the first time in the state, charitable gambling is permitted.

It has been reported that 141 organizations statewide have registered to host bingo games -- one of them being the Holiday Island Elks Lodge.

Although state government can collect a 1-cent tax per bingo face and a 10-percent tax on bingo equipment, charities will frequently get to keep the proceeds after paying-off bingo winners.

A map of Arkansas will be placed in a blank square on each bingo face, and the name of the state will also be displayed on the card.

A self-defense law passed allows persons to use deadly force when outside their homes -- and not just when a perpetrator enters the house.

Before the law required Arkansans to retreat to their homes if they were being threatened, and if that threat persisted, then they could lawfully use deadly force.

The new law states persons can protect themselves anywhere on their property.

Also as of Tuesday, mothers can breastfeed in public without being charged with indecent exposure.

The Act is "to protect women who breast-feed children to create a cause of action to prevent interference with the breastfeeding of a child."

In another effort to protect women, the Legislature passed what was once called the "Paris Hilton law."

Photographers who are caught secretly taking pictures up a woman's skirt or down her blouse for lustful reasons, even if it is in a public place, can now be arrested.

The law is stemmed from the use of discreet cell phones that also take pictures.

Before, the law stated that the pictures were legal because the woman was in a public place.

Persons must now use a turning signal to change lanes. Before the new law, drivers were only required to use the signal for turning, stopping or a sudden decrease in speed.

An unlawful dog attack is now a Class A misdemeanor, that is punishable by fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

In order for the dog owner to be charged, he or she must know or have reason to know that the dog has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or endanger the safety of other persons without provocation, negligently allow the dog to attack another person, or if the attack causes the death of or serious physical injury of a person.

An Act to require scrap metal recordkeeping came into effect Tuesday.

Because of the recent trend in copper wire thefts, legislators now require recyclers to record the photo ID's and addresses of each person who sells them metals.

Carroll County Clerk Shirley Doss said an act to limit the marrying age is "unclear," and that a meeting to discuss the law with clerk's statewide is to take place next week in Hot Springs.

"We are going to decide what to do and make sure everyone is doing the same thing statewide," said Doss.

The act states that it is to "amend provisions of the Arkansas Code to reconcile inconsistencies regarding the minimum age to marry; and for other purposes."

Doss stated that she didn't know why lawmakers amended the act.

Also Tuesday, a one-percent tax on beer replaced a three-percent tax that expired July 1.

It is reported that this tax is expected to accumulate $3 million a year for abused and neglected children programs.

A "Fair Gift Card Act" was passed by legislature to "regulate unfair and deceptive acts and practices in connection with gift cards."

This Act states that a store cannot issue a gift card that has an expiration date earlier than two years, or is subject to service fees for inactivity during that period.

Upon purchase, gift cards must also clearly show the expiration date as well as the amount of any service fees.

The "Fair Gift Card Act" was a part of a legislative package submitted by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

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