A package of tax cuts took effect at the new year that over time could save Arkansas more than $161 million a year. The major tax reductions are:

• Act 1459 which is to reduce the state income tax rates. This will be for taxpayers in the lower brackets and in future years will include income in all brackets.

• Act 1488 exempts from the state income tax any capital gains in excess of $10 million realized after Jan. 1, 2014. Next year, the act will exempt 50 percent of a person’s net capital gains. Also, it will raise the standard deduction for individuals to $2,200. This year it will save taxpayers $600,000 and next fiscal year the total savings will be an estimated $24.5 million.

• Act 1411 will reduce on a phased in basis the sales tax paid by manufacturers on utility bills.

• Act 1441 will create a sales tax exemption on utility bills for qualified agricultural, horticultural and aquaculture structures.

• Act 1408 is an exemption from income tax of the service pay of active duty military personnel. This is members of the armed forces on active duty.

Other legislation taking effect this year is Act 595 which will require voters to present a government issued photo ID in order to receive a ballot to vote. Also, the sale of sky lanterns is prohibited as of Jan. 1 according to Act 1000. A sky lantern is defined as an unmanned free floating device that contains an open flame.

The name and title of a ballot proposal that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour over a three-year period was certified by the attorney general. It now has to get 62,507 signatures of registered Arkansas voters by July 7 to get the measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Many legislators, especially Democrats, are asking Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign by the start of the legislative fiscal session which begins Feb. 10. Darr was fined and reprimanded for some campaign finance issues. There has been some discussion that if he does not resign there will be a push by some for an impeachment to begin.

Contact me by email at bruce.holland@senate.ar.gov, call my office at 650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387, Greenwood, AR 72936.