Prison visitors and inmates who are caught with cellphones inside a state prison could face a misdemeanor charge under a bill advanced by Nebraska lawmakers.

Lawmakers gave the bill first-round approval Wednesday as part of a prisons package.

The bill is designed to help state corrections officials, who confiscated more than 250 contraband phones last year.

Nebraska corrections director Scott Frakes told a legislative committee in January that it's a major problem for state prisons.

A report last year from the Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System identified cellphones as a "significant safety concern" because inmates can use them to coordinate gang activity and communicate in secret with the outside world.

The measure advanced on a 40-0 vote.