OLYMPIA - Democratic and Republican senators proposed a package of bills today to combat human trafficking, including legislation to keep minors from being exploited through online ads for escort services such as Backpage.com
The introduction of today's 12 bills is the latest Senate effort to combat human trafficking following a Senate floor resolution offered by Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, and others in recognition of Jan. 11 being National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and of January being National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month.
“This year marks the 10-year anniversary of anti-trafficking legislation in Washington, the first state in the nation to pass anti-trafficking legislation,” said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, sponsor of a bill that would regulate exploitation of minors on escort websites. “Unfortunately, many forms of human trafficking still exist in our state and world. We must continue to fight for those who can’t advocate for themselves.”
“Human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry that often takes advantage of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children, and even those with developmental disabilities,” said Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, who is sponsoring a bill to make it a class B felony to force a developmentally-disabled person into prostitution. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We must do everything in our power to raise awareness of these crimes, give our judicial system more authority to punish the perpetrators, and provide help for the victims.”
Human trafficking includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor, sex, organ transplants or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
Senate bills announced today include:
· SB 6253: Concerning seizure and forfeiture of property in commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting prostitution in the first degree crimes. (Sens. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, Adam Kline, D- Seattle)
· SB 6254: Compelling a person with a mental disability to engage in prostitution is promoting prostitution in the 1st degree, even absent the use of force. (Sens. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam)
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For more information: Alison Dempsey-Hall, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7887