House Committee Advances Senate Bill on Human Trafficking

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BATON ROUGE (WVLA LOCAL 33) (WGMB FOX 44) — It’s happening on a much larger scale than many Louisianans may realize — people in Louisiana being sold for labor or sex work. Now committees in both the state House and Senate want the governor’s office to form a commission, to help stop human trafficking in its tracks.

The House Administration on Criminal Justice on Wednesday unanimously advanced Senate Bill 42, drafted by Sen. Ronnie Johns (R-Sulphur). The legislation, if passed, would create the Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Commission. Members of that group would include state Attorney General Jeff Landry, Speaker of the House Taylor Barras, Senate President John Alario, in addition to policing and public safety leaders around the state.

The commission would oversee training to social workers and law enforcement officials that handle human trafficking cases. It would also recommend bills to help curb cases of human trafficking.

The bill was inspired by a report, from the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services, that human trafficking was up 25 percent from 2015. That year saw 357 reported trafficking victims in Louisiana. In 2016, 447 victims were reported, 201 of them children.

Calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline are also up statewide. The state had 104 calls last year, up from 75 cases in 2015.

The full House could take up the bill as early as next week. So far, no legislators have voiced opposition.

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