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House panels set to move quickly on ‘priority’ bills

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is off and running on some high-profile bills, scheduling committee hearings for tomorrow on measures dealing with criminal penalties, child abuse and driver’s licenses.

House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, said today some crime bills could be voted on by the full House by as soon as early next week, provided they gain approval in the committees.

“We want to get these common-sense public safety bills over to the Senate as quickly as possible,” Gentry said. “We don’t want the excuse to be given that we just ran out of time.”

Last year, House leaders tried a similar strategy of pressuring the Democrat-controlled Senate to take action on certain bills.

However, the Senate has historically prided itself as a more deliberate chamber and top-ranking senators have said they will not bow to pressure from the House.

In all, five bills are slated for debate tomorrow in two House panels — the House Judiciary Committee and the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee.

They include:

House Bill 65: Making each image of child pornography possession a separate offense.

House Bill 68: Increased penalties for child abuse that does not result in death.

House Bill 69: Broadening the age range of child abuse victims for sentencing purposes.

House Bill 56: Expanding the state’s “three strikes” law by adding additional crime

House Bill 99: Creating a “two-tier” driver’s license system modeled after the Utah system.

All five of the measures are sponsored by GOP lawmakers, though the child porn bill is co-sponsored by a Democratic legislator and is backed by Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat.

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