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11:30 A.M. UPDATE:

An Arkansas House panel has advanced a proposal to allow what are known as 529 college savings funds to be withdrawn for K-12 education expenses, including at private and religious schools.

The House Education Committee on Tuesday endorsed the proposal, which is aimed at mirroring a change in federal law that was included in the tax overhaul. Supporters say the change is needed to ensure Arkansans don't face state tax penalties if they withdraw the funds for those purposes.

[OTHER NEWS FROM THE SESSION: State panel advances bill that would limit public comment on hog farm permits]

Opponents have raised concerns about the impact the move will have on the state's finances, citing an estimate that it could cost Arkansas as much as $5.2 million a year.

A dispute over the change had temporarily stalled the state treasurer's budget during the fiscal session last week.

The proposal now heads to the full House.

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


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers are meeting at the Capitol this week to take up pharmacy reimbursement rates, highway funding and several other issues.

The House and Senate convened Tuesday for a special session, the day after the Legislature formally adjourned this year's fiscal session.

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The top item on the agenda is a proposal to regulate pharmacy benefit managers. Lawmakers are also considering changes to the state's open container law that officials say is needed to protect highway funding and a proposal to allow college savings funds be withdrawn for K-12 education expenses.

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