By Jennifer Arguinzoni and Susan Frederick
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved two bills on April 30 regarding anti-human trafficking legislation that have direct state impact. It is expected that these bills will be on the floor on the U.S. House of Representatives in mid-May for consideration.
NCSL has been working with sponsors of these bills for six months and it is encouraging to see them moving through the committee process. NCSL is the first national state organization to adopt a formal policy position on the issue of human trafficking, which encourages improved coordination among federal agencies as well as improved federal outreach, consultation, coordination and assistance to states and territories with regard to strengthening trafficking enforcement and assistance to trafficking victims.
HR 3530, sponsored by Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), will permit the attorney general to make grants to states or local governments. These grants can be used for a variety of activities to combat human trafficking and assist victims of trafficking, including establishing, improving or expanding comprehensive domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs that help law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judicial officials and qualified victims’ services organizations address human trafficking.
The bill also raises the cap in the Victims of Crime Act to permit state flexibility to use the funds toward the establishment or enhancement of specialized law enforcement training, task force units, problem-solving court programs or victims’ services programs.
HR 3610, sponsored by Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), provides incentives to localities on their Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), if the locality is within a state that treats a minor who has engaged in or attempted to engage in a commercial sex act as a victim of human trafficking. It also discourages the charging or prosecution of such person with prostitution or a sex trafficking offense, or encourages the diversion of such person to appropriate service providers.
This legislation also establishes a national human trafficking hotline beginning in FY ’17 through grants made by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Jennifer Arguinzoni is an NCSL policy specialist and Susan Frederick is senior federal affairs counsel in NCSL's State-Federal Relations Division.