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A bill allowing the state to license genetic counselors cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Under Senate Bill 190, sponsored by Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, the counselors would be licensed by the state Medical Board.

Each would have to complete a master's degree in an approved program and obtain certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling or American Board of Medical Genetics.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, such counselors help patients interpret genetic test results and make choices based on their likelihood of developing inherited diseases.

Courtney Cook, a genetic counselor specializing in oncology, said the bill would attract more counselors to the state and ensure they are qualified and receive continuing education. She works in Fayetteville and said she's the only oncology genetic counselor within a three-hour radius.

The Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor advanced the bill to the full Senate in a voice vote with no dissent.

-- Andy Davis

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