These are the new laws starting on July 1, 2024, in Arkansas

Although the Arkansas General Assembly met for the first time in January 2023, a select set of bills passed were set to begin going into effect on July 1, 2024.

By: Kaleigh Begneaud

Although the Arkansas General Assembly met for the first time in January 2023, a select set of bills passed were set to begin going into effect on July 1, 2024.

This is relatively rare, as most laws passed and signed by the governor either go into effect immediately or after the first of the year. For that reason, there are only a handful of laws that will begin impacting the Natural State on July 1, including new classifications in body art licensing and age limits and the development of a state-wide cybersecurity insurance program to help cities and schools bounce back if they're hit with an attack.

Here are some noteworthy Arkansas laws going into effect on July 1, 2024.

State salary compensation pay grades raised

Act 172: An act to amend the Uniform Classification and Compensation Act (94th General Assembly, Fiscal Session 2024)

The Uniform Classification and Compensation Act is the law that sets all government salaries, separated by salary levels and classification titles.

There are 15 levels of "General Salaries", all with a minimum, mid, and maximum amount for each level. For example, the 2021 version set the minimum salary of GS1 (General Salary Level 1) as being paid no less than $22,000. Mid-range salary for GS1 was $26,950; and the maximum salary that you could make as a GS1 employee was $31,900.

The Act 172 amendment raises all salaries, including Information Technology salaries and Medical Professional salaries. IT and medical professionals have their own separate pay level scales. IT salary grades can go up to IT12, and medical professionals go up to MP10.

Now, GS1 employees' minimum, mid, and maximum salaries are 32,405; 42,046; and 51,686 — a significant raise.

IT1 employees (state IT entry-level job) maximum, for example, was $48,434. It has now been approved to be set to $53,278.

For a full breakdown of state salary pay levels and ranges, you can view the full act here which includes the previous salaries marked out, with the raised salaries.

Another addition included in Act 172 is that employees can't receive a market adjustment to their salaries by more than 3% — however, there is an introduction of "special compensation awards" where an agency can give an employee a bonus to recognize their "outstanding performance in successfully completing a significant project or job assignment or completing a major project milestone."

That compensation award can either be a lump sum not more than $5,000 or up to 40 hours of paid leave.

Arkansas self-funded cyberattack response program

Act 846: An act concerning cybersecurity insurance & creating the Arkansas Cyber Response Program

Beginning on or after July 1, the Arkansas Cyber Response Board is set to send a billing certification to the Department of Finance and Administration — which essentially will begin the process of the insurance program, and funds the funds will be deposited into the Arkansas Self-Funded Cyber Response Program Trust Fund.

But, what is the Arkansas Self-Funded Cyber Response Program Trust Fund?

The law says that government agencies in Arkansas are being increasingly targeted by cyberattacks "from malicious actors resulting in substantial risks, damages, and losses" and with those threats, comes the overwhelming cost of purchasing cybersecurity insurance covering the downfall from a cyberattack.

That's where the Cyber Response Program Trust Fund comes in. Any city, county, or school district, can opt-in to pay an allotted amount of money into the trust fund, which will then use the funds to form the actual program itself, aptly named the Arkansas Self-Funded Cyber Response Program.

The program, according to the law, is in lieu of (or in addition to) other cybersecurity policies that would cost more "and thereby effectuate substantial savings in the cost of a response to a cyberattack."

Coverage includes losses, like repairing hardware and software damage as a result of the cyberattack. Any and all municipalities, counties, and school districts in Arkansas are able to participate in the program.

The program doesn't include punitive damages, like the payment of a ransom demand, for example.

There will also be the development of the Arkansas Cyber Response Board, some members of which will be appointed by the governor. The board will establish parameters of coverage once it is formed.

Board members will be tasked with establishing a definition of a cyberattack that'll be covered under the program, creating a cyber response panel, and designating a cyber response contact who will mobilize in the instance of a cyberattack.

Act 846 says the cyber response contact will assist with forensic analysis, restoration guidance, and other board-authorized assistance.

To read more about the development of universal insurance for Arkansas municipalities targeted by a cyberattack, you can read the full bill's language here.

Read more here.

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