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Arkansas lawmakers give initial approval to governor's plan to tap reserve money for prisons

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas lawmakers have given initial approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to tap an additional $7.4 million from Arkansas reserve funds to open 200 more prison beds.

A subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council approved using the money Tuesday to open the beds at a Pine Bluff prison by July 1, 2016. The new beds are part of an effort to ease overcrowding of state inmates at county jails.

PHOTO: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Benton, speaks at a legislative subcommittee meeting at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. The panel approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's request to tap reserve funds to open more prison beds. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Benton, speaks at a legislative subcommittee meeting at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. The panel approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's request to tap reserve funds to open more prison beds. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

The funding request is in addition to the $33 million plan lawmakers approved earlier this year to help ease that backlog.

The panel also approved tapping another $2.6 million from state reserves to house some state inmates at a prison in Texas.

Both proposals are expected to go before the full council on Friday.

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