New laws free up candy, speed limit, fan­tasy sports

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - BRIAN FANNEY In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by John Moritz of the

Be­gin­ning Tues­day, Arkansans will have the free­dom to im­port al­co­hol-in­fused, choco­late-cov­ered cher­ries as they see fit.

Act 1035, the Choco­late-Cov­ered Cherry Free­dom Act of 2017, is among sev­eral laws ap­proved by the 91st Gen­eral Assem­bly that de­crease the role of gov­ern­ment in Arkansas. The law ap­plies to can­dies with up to 5 per­cent nonliq­uid al­co­hol by vol­ume.

Rep. Jana Della Rosa, R-Rogers, who spon­sored the bill, said her hus­band pre­sented her with out­law can­dies — shipped to Mis­souri — for Valen­tine’s Day. She said the ban seemed ridicu­lous.

“It just seemed like a silly reg­u­la­tion. Who was be­ing pro­tected? No­body,” she said. “It’s one of those things that be­came a de­fault be­cause of a fed­eral stan­dard. I think there’s a mid­dle ground.”

Other dereg­u­la­tion leg­is­la­tion that goes into ef­fect Tues­day in­cludes Act 1097, by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Ho­ra­tio, al­low­ing what will be the newly re­named Arkansas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to raise speed lim­its to 75 mph. Danny Straessle, depart­ment spokesman, stressed that the depart­ment is al­lowed to in­crease the speed limit — af­ter study­ing the is­sue — but is not man­dated to do so.

If the depart­ment in­creases the speed limit, Straessle said, it would likely be in ru­ral ar­eas, such as In­ter­state 49.

Act 1075, by Rep. Jimmy Gaz­a­way, R-Paragould, will le­gal­ize some forms of fan­tasy sports bet­ting.

Gaz­a­way said the law will al­low Arkansans to bet through web­sites like Fan-Duel and Draft-Kings.

“I knew that the law needed some clar­i­fi­ca­tion,” Gaz­a­way said. “Many of the sur­round­ing states had passed sim­i­lar laws, but Arkansas had not.”

Act 576 by Rep. Dan Sul­li­van, R-Jones­boro, will strip the Early Child­hood Com­mis­sion’s au­thor­ity to reg­u­late child care cen­ters.

Af­ter a Fe­bru­ary leg­isla­tive meet­ing, Sul­li­van said rules ap­proved by the Early Child­hood Com­mis­sion have been costly for child care cen­ters, fam­i­lies and tax­pay­ers, who sub­si­dize some types of child care. Act 576 leaves the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices in charge of mak­ing the rules.

Jody Veit-Edring­ton, the com­mis­sion’s chair­man, said at the time that the bill ap­peared to be a re­sponse to the com­mis­sion’s re­fusal last year to change a re­quire­ment for at least 50 per­cent of child care cen­ter em­ploy­ees to be cer­ti­fied in first aid and car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion.

Sul­li­van has served as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of As­cent Chil­dren’s Health Ser­vices since 2013. As­cent has been in the news be­cause Christo­pher Gard­ner, a 5-year-old boy, died at As­cent’s West Mem­phis fa­cil­ity af­ter he was left in a van for more than eight hours on June 12. Charges were filed against four em­ploy­ees.

Act 308, by Rep. Grant Hodges, R-Rogers, will al­low mi­cro­brew­eries to in­crease pro­duc­tion from 20,000 to 45,000 bar­rels per year, main­tain one ware­house and trans­port to no more than three mi­cro­brew­ery-restau­rants un­der the same own­er­ship.

Hodges said he worked with the Arkansas Brew­ers Guild on the bill.

“The gist of the bill is to make it eas­ier to op­er­ate th­ese mi­cro­brew­eries and restau­rants, to change some of the laws that were hold­ing them back and pre­vent­ing them from con­duct­ing their busi­ness, and to ac­com­mo­date a lot of growth we’ve seen the last few years,” he said.

The Leg­is­la­ture also eased up on a 2009 law re­quir­ing first-time driv­ing-un­der-the-in­flu­ence of­fend­ers to have ig­ni­tion-in­ter­lock de­vices in­stalled in their ve­hi­cles. Act 1094, by Rep. Regi­nald Mur­dock, D-Mar­i­anna, will give judges dis­cre­tion over whether to re­quire the de­vices.

“It took the rights away from the judge; we thought it was pretty egre­gious,” Mur­dock said.

Other bills in­clude Act 981, by Rep. David Hill­man, R-Almyra, which will al­low the state Plant Board to set up an in­dus­trial hemp re­search pro­gram, and Act 556, by Sen. Jane English, R-North Lit­tle Rock, which will al­low com­mu­nity col­leges to have dor­mi­to­ries.

Gaz­a­way

Sul­li­van

Hodges

Della Rosa

Vaught

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