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Senators introduce human trafficking legislation

January 16, 2012

A bipartisan group of Washington senators on Monday introduced a package of bills intended to thwart human trafficking.

A bipartisan group of Washington State senators on Monday unveiled a series of measures they will be introducing during the current session to combat human trafficking — a generic term used to describe prostitution, reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.

“Right here in Washington is one of the worst places in the world for kids being taken into bondage,” said Sen. Val Stevens (R-Arlington), who authored a bill cracking down on pimps who recruit runaways at the bus station. “They steak their innocence and keep them captive. This is not acceptable and we’re putting these predators on notice.”

“We’re going to close the loopholes in the law these practices need to flourish,” added Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent), who is sponsoring her own bill to regulate reflexology — foot massages — which is often a cover for prostitution. “They set up a store front that results in human trafficking. We want to give health inspectors the authority to regulate these businesses and step in when they believe prostitution is going on.”

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 6251: Regulating advertising of commercial sexual abuse of a minor. — Sens.Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) and Jerome Delvin (R-Richland);
  • SB 6252: Addressing commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting prostitution in the first degree. — Sens. Adam Kline (D-Seattle) and Joseph Zarelli (R-Ridgefield);
  • 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) and 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 and Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam);
  • SB 6255: Vacating sentences for underage victims — Sens. Karen Fraser (D-Olympia) and Adam Kline (D- Seattle);
  • SB 6256: Adding commercial sexual abuse of a minor to the list of criminal street gang-related offenses. — Sens. Steve Conway (D-South Tacoma) and Jerome Delvin (R-Richland).
  • SB 6257: Addressing sexually explicit performance. — Sens. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, Steve Conway (D-South Tacoma);
  • SB 6258: Concerning unaccompanied persons. — Sens. Val Stevens (R-Arlington) and Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood);
  • SB 6259: Addressing restitution for human trafficking and prostitution. (Sens. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, Adam Kline, D-Seattle);
  • SB 6260: Revising registration requirements and fees charged for various criminal offenses. — Sens. Jerome Delvin (R-Richland) and Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle);
  • SB 6103: Removing the practice of reflexology from the exemptions from licensure for massage or massage therapy. (Sens. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, Karen Fraser, D-Olympia); and,
  • SB 6104: Granting authority to the secretary of health to conduct inspections of massage business establishments. (Sens. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, Karen Fraser, D-Olympia).

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