JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A series of bills that were approved in this year's Arkansas General Assembly will become law this week, including a law concerning the placement of juveniles in foster care, increased speed limits on controlled-access highways and fantasy sports in the state.
Placement of Juveniles in Foster Care
The law, Act 1116, was sponsored by Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale; and Reps. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs and Kim Hammer, R-Benton. It was approved 82-0 in the House and 31-2 in the Senate. Under the new law, the Department of Human Services must look at a variety of factors before placing a child in foster care.
"When the Department of Human Services takes custody of a juvenile under Arkansas Code 12-18-1001, or when the court determines that a juvenile shall be removed from his or her home under this subchapter, the department shall conduct an immediate assessment to locate (i) a noncustodial parent of the juvenile; (ii) recommended relatives of the juvenile, including each grandparent of the juvenile and all parents of the juvenile's sibling if the parent has custody of the sibling; and (iii) Fictive kin identified by the juvenile as one or more persons who play or have a significant positive role in his or her life," the law reads.
The new law also takes a look at possible safety issues in placing a child into foster care, as well as requires DHS to present to courts "a record of the efforts made to locate the non-custodial parent, relatives, fictive kin or other persons identified under subdivision (b) (1) (A) of this section and the results of the assessment."
Also, the law also takes a look at the time frame that a child can stay in foster care and the process.
"The court may order juveniles who are in the custody of the department to be placed in a trial placement with parents or the person from whom custody was removed for a period not to exceed sixty days, except as approved by the department, and in any event, not to exceed six months," the law noted. "At every stage of the case, the court shall consider the least restrictive placement for the juvenile and assess safety concerns that prevent either a trial home placement or the juvenile from being returned to or placed in the custody of the parent of the juvenile."
Here is a look at other bills are set to become law this week or have become law:
People may be able to travel faster down the interstate under the new law, House Bill 2057, sponsored by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio.
The law, Act 1097, allows for the Arkansas Highway Commission to increase the speed limit to 75 mph on controlled-access highways "upon an engineering and traffic investigation."
The law also sets speed limits "on all facilities other than controlled-access highways, except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance."
* 30 mph in any urban district.
* 50 mph for trucks of one-and-one half-ton capacity or more in other locations.
* 65 mph for other motor vehicles in other locations.
* "A motor vehicle which is over width, over length, or over weight or the gross load of which is in excess of 64,000 pounds, excluding the front axle, even if operated under a special permit, shall not be operated in excess of 30 mph."
However, police officers who are on duty, fire vehicles on calls and ambulances, as well as overweight vehicles with a permit are exempt from the speed limit rules.
The bill, which passed the Senate by a 34-0 margin and the House by a vote of 92-1, became law April 7 without the signature of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The bill, House Bill 2250, sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, R-Paragould, would legalize paid fantasy sports games in the state and create an 8% tax "of the game operator's gross paid fantasy sports game revenues from the previous state fiscal year."
Under the new law, Act 1075, fantasy sports would not be considered gambling in the state and that the taxes collected would be sent to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration on a quarterly basis, like business taxes.
The law would allow fantasy sports leagues for professional sports leagues like the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball, but would not allow leagues for college and high school sports, as well as horse and greyhound racing.
The bill was approved 85-0 in the House and 25-5 in the Senate this session.
The bill, House Bill 1251, would amend state law to allow the state to opt out of a section of the 1996 federal Welfare Reform law that disqualifies or sanctions an "individual or any member of a household of the individual has been found guilty of or pleaded guilty or nolo contendre to a crime" including distribution or manufacture of a controlled substance from receiving food stamps or transitional employment assistance.
The law, Act 566, which was sponsored by Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock and Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, was approved by a 93-0 vote in the House and a 34-0 vote in the Senate.
Open Container Law
A bill, House Bill 1922, sponsored by Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, would make it illegal to have an open alcoholic beverage container that is "designated to seat the driver or a passenger in the motor vehicle and the motor vehicle is in operation; or readily accessible to the driver or passenger in the motor vehicle while in a seated position and the motor vehicle is located on a public highway or the right of way of a public highway."
Under the law, Act 849, the ban would also include the trunk or cargo area of a vehicle; glove compartment, center console, a recreational vehicle, motor home or house trailer.
Anyone convicted of the offense would be found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
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