State senators have overwhelmingly backed a bill seeking to cut the spending of a legislative agency whose meetings cost thousands of dollars each year.

The Louisiana State Law Institute, which studies complex legal issues for the Legislature, holds meetings of its decision-making council at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans.

A financial analysis shows travel and other expenses for seven meetings within the past nine months have cost the state nearly $175,000. Similar spending has been reported annually.

Republican Port Allen Sen. Rick Ward is proposing that all council meetings be held in a public building “available without charge” and that at least two-thirds be in Baton Rouge, preferably in the state Capitol building.

A 37-0 vote Thursday sends Senate Bill 395 to the House for consideration.