BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE NATE BELL –
Most of the laws passed by the 89th General Assembly took effect on August 16th, 90 days after we adjourned sine die. A few of the new laws contained emergency clauses setting effective dates as early as the date the law was signed by the Governor. But there were several new laws that were written with an effective date of January 1st, 2014. These include several tax cuts and changes to voting procedures.
Since this is my first column of 2014, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of the specifics with you.
Arkansans who are in the 1% income tax bracket (taxable income less than $4099) will see their taxes lowered by 1/10th. Those in higher income tax brackets will begin seeing the same reductions next year. The end result will be a 1/10th of 1% rate cut for everyone.
We also passed several tax abatements that benefit agriculture which is Arkansas’ largest economic engine. One of those has a substantial local impact. Sales and use tax will no longer be collected for electricity and propane used in livestock facilities such as chicken houses and some other agriculture structures. There are forms that must be filed to certify agricultural use before a farm is eligible for the tax abatement. I strongly supported this tax relief for farmers. It was one of the much needed tax reforms that I discussed with many of you when I first ran for office and I’m proud that it is now law.
Another positive change is income tax deductibility for firefighting equipment purchased by volunteer firefighters for on duty use. This tax relief will allow volunteer firefighters a deduction of up to $1000 for their duty related purchases each year. I worked closely with Rep. Joe Farrer to ensure that our volunteer firefighters received the same tax treatment already in place for paid firefighters.
These are just a few of the tax reductions that take effect this week.
Effective 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. I strongly opposed passage of this bill but it passed into law despite my objections.
In all future elections voters will be required to present photo identification when voting. Acceptable identification will include a driver’s license, photo identification card, concealed carry license, a US passport, state or federal government employee ID, U.S. military ID, a student ID card or public assistance ID card. If for some reason you do not have any of those forms of identification available, your county clerk will provide a photo identification card for you at no charge.
Bills, laws, legislator voting records and lots of other useful information are available on our website. You can even review video of testimony and the legislative session at www.arkansashouse.org