Texarkana is unique in that we live in a city that borders two states. When we cross State Line Avenue, the laws change. And if you are like most folks, you cross that line multiple times a day. Knowing the different laws for both states is a must. The Legislature in Texas and Arkansas recently passed laws that took effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

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Good news for Arkansans, the minimum wage has increased. Also, Texans who want to carry guns on their hips like the cowboys did back in the day can now legally do so if they have a concealed handgun license. There are many other new laws that affect residents on both sides of the state line.

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed several bills in their last session and many took effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Here are the main bills that you should know about.

  • The state's minimum wage increased to $8 an hour.
  • All healthcare plans provided under the Affordable Care Act in Arkansas must provide the minimum benefits for pediatric oral health.
  • Act 1191 requires that catfish that is not from the United States be labeled “imported." The catfish industry in Arkansas is the third largest in the nation.
  • All plans under the Affordable HealthCare Act will have to provide pediatric healthcare.
  • Driver’s licenses issued after Jan. 1, 2016 will not expire for 8 years.
  • For those who have had their driver’s license suspended as a result of outstanding reinstatement fees, they can get back behind the wheel if all of the court costs and fees associated with the suspension have been paid and they have completed a specialty court program, and they can reinstate their driver’s license for a one-time fee of $100.
  • Physicians cannot perform an abortion on a minor unless she obtains notarized consent from one of her parents or legal guardian.
  • Come tax time, you may also see the impact of our recent tax cuts. The income tax will be reduced for those making between $21,000 and $75,000. The reduction became effective at the beginning of 2015 so you will notice the change in this year’s tax filings. People making above $75,000 will see the reduction next year.
  • Farmers and ranchers will receive an income tax exemption for payment from an agricultural disaster program.

New laws taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016 for Texas include:

  • The new law that many people have been talking about is House Bill 910, the Open Carry Law. It allows Texans with Concealed Handgun Licenses to openly carry a handgun in a belt or shoulder holster.
  • House Bill 1733 requires drivers for Uber or Lyft services, or any networked transportation company, to hold liability insurance, uninsured motorist protection, and personal injury protection.
  • House Bill 3994 affects teens seeking an abortion with their parents' consent. The wait time has been extended to five days now for teens seeking court orders allowing doctors to perform abortions. The teen also must file in a court in her home county, or in a neighboring county if the home county has fewer than 10,000 residents. She also has the option of seeking the order in the county in which she will have the abortion performed.