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Lighter side of the new laws

by Michael R. Wickline | July 25, 2021 at 2:43 a.m.
The site of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, near the small town of Dyess, Ark., is the focal point of the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival. (Photo by John Sykes Jr., Democrat-Gazette)

Some of the new laws are on lighter topics, such as:


Act 926, sponsored by Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, will allow the operation of an "electronically-powered personal delivery device" in pedestrian areas and on some streets.

The device would weigh up to 500 pounds, excluding the cargo, and be equipped with automated driving technology. promoted the legislation in this year's regular legislative session.

The Amazon Scout is being tested in the field in four states: in Snohomish County in Washington; the Irvine area in California; Franklin, Tenn.; and Atlanta, an Amazon spokesman said.

"We have a long-standing practice of not commenting on our future road map, but what I can say is that we are committed to bringing Amazon Scout to customers worldwide," the spokesman said.

Act 926 requires liability coverage on the delivery devices, and allows cities and counties to ban the use of the devices where they would be a safety hazard.


Act 1061, sponsored by Sen. Blake Johnson, R-Corning, will allow a court to suspend a driver's license for up to six months upon conviction of a second offense of drag racing on a public highway within five years of a first offense.

The law also will create the crime of felony racing on a public highway. Under particular circumstances that would have to be documented in a report prepared by the arresting law enforcement officer, a prosecuting attorney could amend the charge to a Class D felony.

Under Act 1061, a person commits the crime of felony racing on a public highway under certain circumstances, including impeding or stopping the flow of traffic or being part of a gathering of 10 or more individuals engaged in similar behavior.

The measure was proposed after commanders in the Arkansas State Police's Highway Patrol Division learned of a rising number of citations written by troopers across the state over racing incidents and the commanders learned of similar spikes in local jurisdictions, said Bill Sadler, state police spokesman.

In 2020, the state police issued 146 violator citations for drag racing, more than twice the number in each of the previous four years, Sadler noted.


Act 916, sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, will require Feb. 26 of each year to be known as John R. "Johnny" Cash Day to honor the singer's musical contributions to the United States and Arkansas.

"John R. 'Johnny' Cash Day is not a legal holiday but is a memorial day," under the law.

Cash was born in Kingsland, and his childhood home was in Dyess.


Act 405, sponsored by Rep. Craig Christensen, R-Bald Knob, will designate the St. Louis Southwestern No. 819, class L1 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive as the official steam locomotive of the state of Arkansas.

The locomotive was built in a shop operated by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway in Pine Bluff and placed in active service on Feb. 8, 1943. The engine traveled more than 804,000 miles in 12 years of active service before being presented to the city of Pine Bluff on July 19, 1955, according to Act 405.

Engine 819's home is now in the Arkansas Railroad Museum at the place of the engine's birth in Pine Bluff.

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