Minimum wage hike, other changes take effect on January 1

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 203 views 

The baby new year will bring in some grown-up changes to Arkansas law.

Typically, new state laws take effect 90 days after the regular session adjourns, or they can take effect immediately if they contain an emergency clause. However, some bills are written to take effect on a calendar year change. Also, measures passed by voters – such as the new minimum wage law – set a specific date for enactment.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2016 several new state laws take effect that will impact Arkansas workers and businesses.

Arkansas’s minimum wage will increase to $8.00 per hour from its current rate of $7.50. A citizen’s initiative to raise the wage started in 2015. While the amount increases to $8.00 in 2016, it will increase another 50 cents on Jan. 1, 2017. The Arkansas Minimum Wage Act applies to employers who employ four or more employees.

Aspects of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s tax cut package will also be seen in 2016. The income tax is being reduced for those making between $21,000 and $75,000. The reduction became effective at the beginning of 2015 so taxpayers will notice the change in this year’s tax filings. Those making above $75,000 will see a reduction next year. The income tax rate has been reduced by 1% for those making between $21,000 and $75,000. The 6.9% top rate adopted in the 2013 session will be restored for taxpayers with taxable incomes above $75,000 beginning in 2016.

Arkansas farmers and ranchers will receive an income tax exemption for payment from an agricultural disaster program.

The Arkansas legislature passed a law to ensure that all healthcare plans provided under the Affordable Care Act in state must provide the minimum benefits for pediatric oral health. These benefits go into effect at the beginning of the year.

Another new law requires that catfish that is not from the U.S. be labeled “imported.” The legislation also requires that a distinction be made in packaging if it includes catfish or catfish-like products.

Driver’s licenses issued after January 1, 2016 will not expire for 8 years under a new law, extending the licensing period from 4 years previously.