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Monday, July 16, 2018, 11:29 a.m.

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Arkansas lawmakers wrap up special session

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published March 15, 2018 at 1:41 p.m. Updated March 15, 2018 at 4:46 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers have wrapped up this week's special session after approving several measures on pharmacies, highway funding and college savings.

The House and Senate adjourned the three-day session Thursday after giving final approval to several bills, including one that regulates pharmacy benefit managers.

The bill was among several bills given final approval before lawmakers adjourned the special session.

At a news conference to announce plans to reorganize state government, Hutchinson said issues had developed that needed to be addressed before the 2019 regular session.

"As to a pattern for the future, I will certainly not plan on special sessions following fiscal sessions," Hutchinson said. "I hope that doesn't happen, but fiscal sessions do bring to the surface other challenges that need to be met."

Other measures approved include a bill to make it harder to perpetuate complaints against farms that need permits to retain then dispose of liquid animal waste. They also approved legislation allowing 529 college savings funds to be withdrawn for K-12 tuition, including at private and religious schools.

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Another bill approved makes changes in the state's open container law that officials says is needed to protect some highway funding.

Arkansas lawmakers also approved a measure upholding loan contract provisions that allow both sides to waive their rights to a jury trial, despite objections that it would strip away a constitutional right for borrowers.

The House on Thursday approved by a 66-10 vote the bill, which allows the jury waiver provisions in contracts to borrow or loan money. The measure heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said he plans to sign it into law.

The bill was in response to a state Supreme Court ruling last year that said such jury waiver provisions in contracts aren't enforceable. Supporters said both sides have to agree to the waiver, and that it would protect thousands of contracts that already have that clause.

Opponents said the provisions put borrowers at a disadvantage.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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