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PHOENIX -- 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.

Associated Press,

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