Jul 28, 2023 - News

10 Arkansas laws taking effect in August

Arkansas State Capitol building front entrance in Little Rock

The Arkansas Capitol in Little Rock. Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nearly 900 acts passed by the Arkansas Legislature earlier this year are set to become law Tuesday.

The big picture: Measures passed by lawmakers without a separate vote on an emergency clause become law 90 days after the session ends, which it did May 1.

Catch up quick: Ten notable acts:

  • Act 131 — Initially written to ban certain drag performances, the act now defines an "adult-oriented performance" and says such events cannot be held on public property, nor can they allow minors to attend or be funded with public money.
  • Act 195 — Teens under age 16 will no longer need a work permit through the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing.
  • Act 237Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' omnibus LEARNS education reform package includes a school voucher program and teacher raises.
  • Act 274 — Allows a person who receives a gender transition procedure as a minor to sue the doctor up to 15 years after they turn 18.
  • Act 317 — The measure bans students from using a multiple-occupancy restroom or changing area not consistent with the sex listed on their birth certificate. It also requires students on overnight trips to share sleeping quarters with others consistent with their sex assigned at birth.
  • Act 372 — Makes it a crime for librarians to knowingly lend potentially harmful or obscene materials to minors and creates a process for books in public and school libraries to be challenged.
  • Act 511 — Schools and the state School Board cannot require an employee to participate in implicit bias training.
  • Act 542 — The measure prohibits school employees from addressing students by pronouns inconsistent with the student's sex assigned at birth unless given written permission from parents.
  • Act 612 — Requires companies publishing pornography online to contract with third-party vendors to verify users' ages before allowing access to the platforms.
  • Act 777 Clarifies that a license isn't required to carry a concealed handgun in Arkansas.

Of note: At least seven new laws will make it easier for more Arkansans to carry concealed handguns in more places.

  • Act 689, which requires social media companies to contract with third-party vendors to verify a user is at least age 18, will take effect Sept. 1.

What we're watching: Different groups are challenging the library and social media laws.

  • Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES) are seeking a repeal by referendum of the LEARNS Act and needs to collect nearly 55,000 signatures by Monday.
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