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Legislative digest

A majority of the laws we passed during our Regular Session this year took effect in August. But there were several bills written with an effective date of Jan. 1. These include tax cuts and changes to our voting procedures.

So before the new year begins, we would like to inform you of a few changes.

Starting with tax cuts, Arkansans who are currently paying 1 percent in income tax will see their taxes lowered by 1/10th. Those in higher incomes tax brackets will begin seeing reductions next year.

The 89th General Assembly passed reductions for the sales and use tax for utilities used in agriculture structures, such as chicken houses and we also increased deductions for volunteer firefighters. These are just a few of many tax reductions you will see beginning in January.

We also made changes to our laws regarding fireworks. Beginning, January 1st, the sale and use of sky lanterns will be prohibited. A sky lantern is an unmanned free floating device designed to contain an open flame. These are commonly used in wedding celebrations. Because of previous incidents and future fire hazards, the General Assembly voted to outlaw the use of the lanterns this year.

Another important piece of legislation which takes effect Jan. 1 is the act to require that a voter provide proof of identity when voting.

Starting in 2014, voters will be required to present a photo identification at the polls. Acceptable identification will include a driver’s license, photo identification card, concealed carry license, a US passport, state or federal government employee identification, U.S. military identification, a student ID card or public assistance ID card.

If you do not have any of those identification cards available, your county clerk will provide a free photo identification card for you. The Secretary of State’s office has established the rules and posted them on their website. And prepaid wireless customers will notice a surcharge at the beginning of this year. A 65-cent fee will be added to each retail transaction for prepaid wireless services. Those funds will be used to assist 911 emergency phone systems across the state.

You can always find bills on our website and even review video of testimony at www.arkansashouse.org

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