If you’re looking into the 2020 law changes in Arkansas, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With legal jargon like annotated codes, statutory schemes, and session laws, it can seem impossible to understand the basics of the new laws and what they mean. That’s where we come in. McMath Woods P.A. is dedicated to ensuring our state’s residents understand state laws and their implications. Let’s take a look at the law changes we’ll be seeing soon and what they could mean for you.
Gradual Rise of Minimum Smoking Age
A new law will gradually raise the minimum smoking age in Arkansas from 18 to 21 by 2021. The first change took place on September 1, 2019. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, are banned for those under 21 years of age. Members of the military and smokers who turn 19 before 2020 are exempt. This is how the state plans to phase in the new requirement.
The new law also increases some cigarette taxes. Additionally, the existing tax on medical marijuana will be dedicated to paying for a National Cancer Institute designation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
This smoking age raise is being implemented for a number of reasons. The first revolves around the growing popularity of e-cigs and the resulting injuries and deaths that have occurred. Additionally, lung cancer and other cancers related to tobacco and nicotine products are still at incredibly high rates. Raising the smoking age gives young people an opportunity for their brains to develop a bit longer, so they can make more proactive decisions when it comes to not using tobacco and nicotine products.
Practice of Optometry Referendum
In March 2019, Act 570 amended the state’s optometric scope of practice to permit new procedures, which included selective laser trabeculoplasty, YAG laser capsulotomy, certain injections, remove of lid lesions, and chalazion incision and curettage. This bill was a product of the Arkansas Optometric Association. In August 2019, Safe Surgery Arkansas sought a ballot referendum on the new state law, but they failed to gather the signatures needed from registered voters to put the measure on the ballot.
This means that you could be offered new services by your optometrist in 2020. Because optometry delivers 85% of the primary eye care in the United States, the state recognizes that optometry is well-positioned, trained, and qualified to address patients’ questions and perform necessary eye health and sight-saving procedures.
The bill still prohibits doctors of optometry from performing cataract surgery, radial keratotomy surgery, and selling prescription drugs. Additionally, the bill directs the Arkansas Board of Optometry to establish credentialing requirements from optometrists to perform the laser procedures and requires those doctors to report the outcomes of the procedures.
With an expansion of services offered, it’s important for optometrist to be fully aware of and educated on the procedures they’ll be completing. If a patient is wrongfully injured, a medical malpractice claim can be filed.
Transportation Sales Tax Continuation Amendment
While the Arkansas Transportation Sales Tax Continuation Amendment has not been passed yet, it is on the November 2020 ballot. It would amend the state constitution to continue and make permanent a 0.5 percent sales tax with the money going to state and local transportation, including highways, roads, and bridges. The sales tax was originally put in place by voters in 2012; however, it’s set to expire in 2023.
When the sales tax was put in place in 2012, the stipulation was that it would be levied until $1.3 billion for the construction of a four-lane highway was repaid. It was estimated that the amount would be reached in 2023. The sales tax does not apply to food or food ingredients.
As a result of the tax, the Department of Finance and Administration said an additional $293.7 million would be generated each year. Of that, 70% would go to state highways, 15% to county transportation, and 15% to city transportation. If the amendment passes in 2020, the additionally 0.5% sales tax will become permanent.
If you have questions about the 2020 law changes in Arkansas, contact McMath Woods P.A. Our personal injury lawyers can answer your questions and explain the laws in a way that makes sense.
It’s important to note that law changes can have an impact on personal injury claims. If you think one of the laws above could apply to your claim or you’re worried about filing a case in the future, we can look into that matter for you as well. Schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys today to learn more.