JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri lawmakers examined a pair of payments Monday to fight prostitution and human trafficking within the state.
In 2017, 140 circumstances of human trafficking had been reported in Missouri — one of many highest totals within the nation, in accordance with the Nationwide Human Trafficking Hotline. Lawmakers say victims are normally trafficked by truck stops, resorts and different varieties of companies. A invoice proposed within the state Home of Representatives would require coaching for workers in such companies to assist victims.
Rep. Tom Hannegan, R-St. Charles, proposed the invoice Monday to the Home Crime Prevention and Public Security Committee.
Underneath the invoice, staff who’ve recurring interactions with the general public could be required to bear 20 minutes of human trafficking consciousness coaching.
The coaching would offer steerage on figuring out victims or potential victims, responding to suspicious conditions and contacting the suitable businesses.
Hannegan says the coaching supplies are already obtainable by the legal professional normal’s workplace.
A separate anti-human trafficking legislation, handed final yr by lawmakers, will go into impact in March. It requires sure institutions to show a poster promoting the Nationwide Human Trafficking Useful resource Middle Hotline cellphone quantity. Hannegan stated that isn’t sufficient to fight the rising difficulty of human trafficking.
“We all the time cross nice laws and have the suitable intentions, however generally they only get placed on the again burner,” stated Hannegan. “This invoice is to verify we preserve (human trafficking) on the forefront.”
Throughout Monday’s listening to, lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier raised issues that administering the coaching would possibly place an undue burden on lodge house owners and operators.
“We don’t wish to be singled out as an trade,” stated Schlemeier.
He prompt that enterprise house owners be allowed to take part in this system on a voluntary foundation. He additionally highlighted a possible blind spot within the invoice that doesn’t place a requirement on Airbnb to require its hosts to bear coaching.
Hannegan stated whereas he hopes the invoice would scale back the charges of human trafficking, he doesn’t need it to put an additional burden on enterprise house owners — particularly small enterprise house owners.
“I believe 20 minutes of any person’s time is minimal to saving any person’s life,” stated Hannegan.
If the invoice is handed, an employer that doesn’t difficulty the coaching could also be ordered by the Division of Public Security to take action though the invoice wouldn’t require employers to report their compliance.
Employers are solely liable for administering the coaching and can’t be held accountable for any victims which will cross by their institution.
As Hannegan’s invoice focuses on bodily areas, one other invoice heard Monday examines on-line platforms had been victims are sometimes trafficked.
Senate Invoice 37 follows the lead of FOSTA-SESTA, a federal invoice initially proposed by U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-St. Louis, that grew to become legislation in April. It goals to take away protections from web sites like Backpage.com that knowingly foster intercourse trafficking.
Beforehand, websites like this might use Part 230 of the Communications Decency Act, one other federal legislation, to take away legal responsibility from the location itself if its customers had been using it for prison acts. Senate Invoice 37 does the identical.
Sen. Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, who’s sponsoring the invoice, emphasised the function the web, and particularly categorised portals, have performed in enabling intercourse trafficking.
“Within the final decade, human intercourse trafficking has gone on-line, and web sites equivalent to Backpage have enabled intercourse trafficking, together with the trafficking of minors, on a scale that was unimaginable in previous historical past,” Onder stated throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee listening to Monday afternoon.
Onder added that as state-level prosecutions for intercourse trafficking far outnumber federal ones, it’s essential that Missouri incorporate this into its legislation.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit.