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Arkansas governor signs parks, tourism bills into law

The Gov. signs tourism bills at surrounded by legislators and park rangers at Pinnacle Mountain.
Josie Lenora
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs tourism bills surrounded by legislators and park rangers at Pinnacle Mountain State Park on Thursday.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrapped up nearly a week of bill signings on Thursday at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Sanders signed new laws relating to the state Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.

Arkansas First Gentleman Bryan Sanders said the goal of the laws is to “get more kids off screens and outdoors” and to improve their quality of life.

“There has never been a better time to get outdoors in Arkansas,” he said. “It really is our unique selling proposition, particularly in this region of the country.”

One of the new laws, SB472 sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin, would make it easier for state parks, even those in dry counties, to obtain alcohol permits and for visitors to consume alcoholic beverages at large-scale events. Irvin also sponsored a law that directs the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to set up “Natural State Initiative Opportunity Zones,” primarily in parts of the state with high unemployment, where certain tourist attractions can receive new incentives and tax breaks.

“These bills will reduce our administrative burden,” Irvin said. “They will streamline, cut out unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy so we are able to compete and really attract all that tourism into our state.”

One of the new laws will decrease the price of fishing and hunting licenses for minors, while another will streamline the way building contracts are handled within the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.