New laws to impact businesses from A to Z

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,258 views 

The 93rd Arkansas General Assembly passed 1,112 bills into law this year.

The 93rd Arkansas General Assembly passed 1,112 bills into law this year, and there was no shortage of changes that will impact business and commerce in the state.

The legislature stands in recess for now. Under their rules, there are a variety of ways that laws can go into effect. If there is an emergency clause, the new law goes into effect when signed by the governor. Some bills that are signed have a specific start date, such as Jan. 1, 2022.

Acts that do not contain an emergency clause or a specified effective date become effective on the 91st day following the date the General Assembly officially adjourns or temporarily recesses for at least 90 days. July 28, 2021, was the date for those new laws to take effect.

Talk Business & Politics has rounded up a plethora of laws that will impact various businesses ranging from agriculture to commercial law to taxes and tourism.

AGRICULTURE
Act 361 amends the makeup of the State Plant Board by increasing the board’s membership. It also requires a gubernatorial appointment and Senate confirmation of potential members.

Act 306 amends the provisions applicable to sales of cottage food production operations. It provides that sales by a cottage food production operation through the internet are exempt from the definition of “food service establishment.”

Act 1040 creates the Food Freedom Act, which exempts certain producers of homemade food or drink products from licensure, certification, or inspection.

COMMERCIAL LAW
Act 253 allows Arkansas corporations to hold annual or special shareholder meetings through remote communication and requires guidelines and procedures governing remote shareholders’ meetings. It also provides verified shareholders and proxy holders who are not physically present at a shareholders’ meeting to have a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting, be deemed present at the meeting, and be permitted to vote on matters submitted at the meeting.

Act 523 reverses changes made in 2019 by returning the administration and collection of the franchise tax to the Secretary of State. Lawmakers had transferred that process to the Department of Finance and Administration, but it had created quite a bit of confusion.

Act 659 provides that a local government may license home-based work and be restrictive only as to advertising; nuisances; health, fire, and safety codes; traffic and parking; building and maintenance codes; and protections for children, elderly, and the infirm. It also limits the number of staff, customers, and tenants; prohibitions or limitations related to public health, safety, and welfare; and licenses and regulations that apply to businesses without regard to location. The act provides that it does not supersede agreements between a homeowners’ association and a homeowner or any reasonable deed restrictions and clarifies that county zoning ordinances shall conform to the law regarding home-based work.

HEALTH
Act 1002 ends mandatory face-covering requirements not imposed by a private business or state-owned or state-controlled healthcare facility. It prohibits a state agency or entity, political subdivision of the state, or a state or local official from mandating a face mask, face shield, or other face covering.

Act 977 prohibits the state, a state agency or entity, and a political subdivision of the state from mandating a vaccine or immunization for COVID-19 and governs requirements for a vaccine or immunization for COVID in certain situations when approved by the Legislative Council.

Act 767 clarifies the Arkansas Telemedicine Act by specifying that a patient’s home may be an originating site for telemedicine and that group meetings may be performed via telemedicine. The act also clarifies the law concerning the reimbursement of telemedicine services.

LANDLORDS & TENANTS
Act 1052 provides implied residential quality standards for lease agreements and rental agreements. The act also provides that the implied residential quality standards – such as a functioning roof, running water, electricity, heat and air – are required when possession is delivered to the tenant and throughout the term of the lease agreement or rental agreement.

TAXES
Act 586 creates the Independent Tax Appeals Commission Act, which provides for the creation of the Tax Appeals Commission to resolve disputes between the Department of Finance and Administration and taxpayers. The act outlines the appointment, qualifications, and duties of the commissioners on the commission and the jurisdiction of the commission. The act also establishes requirements for service of process, pleadings, hearings, and commission decisions. Under the act, the commission will hear disputes beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Act 362 creates the Elective Pass-Through Entity Tax Act, allowing pass-through entities to elect to have their income be subject to the pass-through entity tax instead of the state income tax. The act is effective for tax years beginning on and after Jan. 1, 2022.

Act 807 provides that a sale by a charitable organization does not compete with a for-profit business and is therefore exempt from sales and use tax when the sales transaction either is not a continuing transaction or is held no more than 10 times a year.

Act 840 increases the annual cap on the Arkansas historic rehabilitation income tax credit from $4 million to $8 million, allows the Division of Arkansas Heritage to use fees collected under the Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit Act for personnel costs related to the administration of the act, and extends the sunset date of the act.

TOURISM & HOSPITALITY
Act 158 authorizes retail liquor, microbrewery-restaurant, and small brewery permit holders to deliver alcoholic beverages to the private residence of a consumer who is 21 years of age or older in a wet county. The delivery has to be during legal operating hours and conducted by an employee of the permit holder.

Act 703 authorizes a restaurant holding a valid alcoholic beverage permit to sell alcoholic beverages directly to a consumer to be consumed off-premises or delivered to the consumer at a location off-premises.

Act 652 amends the authority of the State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission related to fees for services and authorizes the State Parks Division to utilize dynamic pricing for events, services, and overnight accommodations. The act authorizes the division to increase fees, rates, tolls, charges, and rentals by up to 20% and to decrease the fees, rates, tolls, charges, and rentals by up to 50% on a seasonal basis.