Human trafficking is a serious problem. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, it is the second largest criminal industry in the world, generating $32 billion annually. This modern-day form of slavery forces many victims into prostitution, involuntary labor, and other forms of enslavement. Victims of sex trafficking are overwhelmingly female (93%), and a majority (53%) are under the age of 17, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
For the last several sessions, it has been a priority of House Republicans to bring forth legislation to combat this horrendous crime. We have followed through on this priority and have moved a series of bipartisan bills to both directly combat human trafficking and crimes often associated with it.
This week, our caucus passed the capstone bill, Senate File 2191, that establishes an office to combat human trafficking. The office is charged with several tasks including:
Serving as a point of contact for anti-human trafficking activity in the state by working with other government and nongovernmental agencies, victim protection, and law enforcement
- Developing a strategy to collect and maintain criminal history data on human trafficking crimes
- Seeking additional financial support
- Researching and recommending training to government agencies to identify and respond to human trafficking victims
- Taking other steps necessary to advance the purpose of the office
The House also passed a bill to extend the statute of limitations for human trafficking and kidnapping victims. Under current law, victims only have three years after the crime is committed for recourse. Under House File 2278, the statute of limitations would be extended to ten years after the victim turns 18. This is a good step to ensure justice as the vast majority of these cases are minors.
Finally, a practice that is sometimes used by traffickers and abusers is applying for credit cards in a minor’s name for financial gain. Under House File 2401, this practice would be penalized to help fight against these actions.
All three of these bills have passed both the House and the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.