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New laws take effect in Arkansas

Sunday, January 15, 2012

As 2012 arrived, several new state laws took effect, including new requirements on facilities that provide the abortion pill, and a tax cut on the purchase of used cars.

There is also a new law authorizing a pilot program to offer morbid obesity coverage, and a requirement that new homes include carbon monoxide detectors.

The new abortion clinic licensing requirement was one of the few victories anti-abortion groups saw in the legislature, as at least 10 other abortion-related bills never reached the House floor for a vote.

The new law requires facilities that perform 10 or more nonsurgical abortions a month to be licensed by the Arkansas Health Department and be subject to inspections, the same requirements faced by facilities that offer surgical abortions.

Arkansas Right to Life, pushed for the change, saying the new law was needed to protect women who must go to the clinics, and gives regulators more information about the facilities.

Planned Parenthood argued that its clinics are already regulated like any other health care facility, and abide by the state Medical Practices Act.

According to published reports during the legislative session, Planned Parenthood warned that its clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock would have to add procedure and recovery rooms, space that's not needed in facilities that don't perform surgical abortions, in order to comply with the law.

Arkansas has one clinic that performs surgical abortions, which is in Little Rock.

The new law regarding taxes on used cars says anyone purchasing a vehicle with a selling price of less than $4,000 will not have to pay sales tax on the purchase.

That raises the exemption from the previous $2,500 limit.

The tax cut was part of a $35 million package of reductions that Governor Mike Beebe negotiated with lawmakers during the legislative session.

The package also included a half-cent cut in the state sales tax on grocery items, which went into effect in July.

Also, an annual back-to-school sales tax holiday was included in package.

The used car tax cut is expected to cost the state about $5 million annually.

The cut will assist working Arkansans during the economic downturn.

Other new laws include requiring a low voltage carbon monoxide detector be installed on each floor of a new home constructed after Jan. 1.

The law makes it a misdemeanor offense to violate the law.

Another new law requires state and public school employee health benefit plans to offer coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of morbid obesity, including gastric bypass surgery and adjustable gastric banding surgery.

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glad you wrote this. wish they would do something about stimulating jobs.

-- Posted by conventional1 on Wed, Jan 18, 2012, at 8:16 PM

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