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Arizona lawmakers OK extra $500k for Redistricting Commission

Commission chair Colleen Mathis, middle, pours over possible congressional redistricting maps as she is flanked by commissioners Linda McNulty, left, and commission vice chair, Scott Freeman during an Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meeting Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Legislature has approved $500,000 in extra funding for the Independent Redistricting Commission to allow the commission to pay lawyers defending it from lawsuits.

The commission had asked for nearly $2.3 million to pay lawyers and for reserves in case it faces more lawsuits or has to redraw district maps.

The full Senate voted 25-3 Thursday with two members absent to authorize the funds. The House of Representatives approved the bill by a 51-9 vote.

Rep. John Kavanagh told the House the $500,000 would be enough for the commission to operate for several months.

The commission redraws Legislative and congressional districts every 10 years.

It faces several Republican-backed lawsuits challenging district maps the commission approved in January 2012. The first lawsuit is set for trial in late March.

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