Payne earned a bachelor of science at Auburn University, and a master of arts and master of business administration at UAB. He served in the U. S. Army and worked as an accountant for Owens-Corning and as an assistant and associate director in the office of planning at the University of Alabama.
Payne was first elected to the Alabama House in 1978 and has been re-elected seven times. He defeated Democratic challenger Jonathan Barbee 8,435 to 4,019 in the 2006 general election and is unopposed in the 2010 general election. He is currently the ranking minority member of the committees for boards and commissions and government operations. He also co-chairs the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation with John Rogers.
Payne is a member and former president of the Center Point Civitan Club, a member of the Chalkville Civic Club and a member of First Baptist Church of Trussville. One of the competitors in the annual Miss Trussville pageant is awarded a $100 "Arthur Payne Scholarship" to attend college.
- MacDonald, John A. (September 29, 2008) "Son of Alabama legislator Arthur Payne dies in motorcycle accident in Trussville." Birmingham News