Special Session Day Two: Several Bills Pass House and Senate

PBM and Tax-Deferred Tuition Savings Bills Both Pass

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas lawmakers returned to the State Capitol for Day No. 2 of the special session on Wednesday.

Two bills that garnered the most attention were: amending the tax-deferred tuition savings plan, or the 5-29 plan, and the bill creating the pharmacy benefits managers act, which would be the first of its kind in the nation.

The Senate and House each had versions of those bills.

The Pharmacy Benefits Managers bill passed in the House 92-2 and in the Senate 30-2.

The tax-deferred tuition bill passed in the House  62-16 and in the Senate with a vote of 23-6.

Senators on both sides of the tax-deferral tuition bill spoke out Wednesday. Critics say the tax breaks would affect the state budget. Supporters say it's simply aligning our state law with the federal version.

 "I think this is grievous, almost indefensible policy," Sen. Joyce Elliot, Dist. 36, says.

"You should not have the expectation that you're going to withdrawal money and get a tax deduction as well."

Sen. Jason Rapert, Dist. 35. expressed support for the tax-deferral tuition bill saying: "As for state deductibility of contributions, over 30 states in this country allow for contributions to be deducted from adjustable gross income. The bottom line is, public schools are going to be funded in the state of Arkansas, and this in no way affects that."

Other bills that passed include:

A bill amending the state's open-alcohol container law to avoid future highway spending penalties (House, 94-0/Senate 30-0).

A bill amending the law concerning modification and review of permits by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Equality (House, 73-6/Senate 21-7).

Both the Senate and the House are expected to convene at 9 a.m. on Thursday. The special session is expected to wrap on Thursday.

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