LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers want to prevent the state from paying the legal bills for criminal defendants who have hired private attorneys.

A proposal endorsed Thursday by the Joint Budget Committee would allow payment only for lawyers who get clients through the Arkansas Public Defender Commission. The measure is in response to Abdulhakim Muhammad's request that the state pay his legal bills.

Muhammad is charged with capital murder of Army Pvt. William Long and the wounding of another soldier outside a Little Rock recruiting station. He's claimed the shootings were justified because of U.S. military action in the Middle East.

The proposed restriction wouldn't affect Muhammad because it is included in the commission's budget for next fiscal year.