New Arkansas laws took effect Jan. 1

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- Since Jan. 1, veterans who live in the Natural State no longer have to pay income tax on their military retirement benefits.

State Rep. Nelda Speaks, who represents Baxter County, said, "They've been looking forward to that, and it's well deserved."

Speaks said it also benefits the county and Arkansas' bottom line.

"We have 6,000 veterans right here in Baxter County, and that is such an impact on our economy," Speaks said. "It's an impact of $37 million."

There are about 22,000 military retirees who currently live in Arkansas.

A more controversial law bans sex-selection abortions, which is when a woman decides to get an abortion based on if the fetus is a boy or girl.

And the doctor who performs that abortion could lose his or her license.

A school bus purchased after the start of the new year must have seat belts. But there's one condition. A petition has to be submitted and signed by at least 10 percent of a school district's electors, then voted on at the school election. Schools would have to figure out how to fund it.

"Not only for just getting the seat belts in, but there will have to be someone on that bus to help these little ones, to get them in and out of the seats," Speaks said.

But a more beneficial law for Baxter county may be the $250 income tax deduction for teachers who buy classroom supplies.

Speaks said, "We have some wonderful teachers that have such a caring spirit about their students that they have."