ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Lawmakers have halted a hearing to re-open a private prison in western Minnesota due to repeated interruptions from protesters.

Republicans are pushing to open the facility in Appleton to ease overcrowding in Minnesota prisons. The facility holds up to 1,600 inmates but was closed in 2000.

But the chair of the House committee stopped Tuesday's hearing after frequent interruptions from protesters. It's unclear when the meeting may resume or if the bill will get a vote.

Toya Woodland was among the protesters who objected to the proposal, saying the state should focus on reducing its prison population. Woodland says she's not sure if the disruption helps their cause but says it calls attention to their concerns.