- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A proposal for tougher sentencing laws for possessing, distributing and manufacturing child pornography images has cleared the Senate Finance Committee - with a much-debated amendment that says teens caught sexting wouldn’t be prosecuted under the legislation.

The bill went before the committee Tuesday evening after clearing a House floor vote, and two other senate committees - where it was amended twice.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, had advocated for the legislation and since the start of the session, called on lawmakers to pass it, saying current state laws for punishing child pornographers are too lax. But James Hallinan, a spokesman for Balderas, said after the vote that the attorney general’s office wouldn’t support the measure as amended.

Sen. George Munoz of Gallup raised concern that the proposed law could unintentionally classify teens caught sexting as child pornographers.

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