Human trafficking bill unanimously clears Senate panel

03/07/2013 11:39 AM

After a unanimous committee vote, a measure to protect Kentucky children from one of the most heinous crimes of being sold for sex is just one major step from clearing the General Assembly.

House Bill 3 , the human trafficking bill — which is sponsored by Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, and cosponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence — passed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s panel with only minor changes on Thursday. It now heads to the Senate floor.

The bill, which stalled in the Senate last year, would set up a new division of the Kentucky State Police. And it would create a human trafficking victims fund paid for with assets seized from those convicted of the crime.

Because of Kentucky’s central location and the large number of interstate highways running through the state, Overly said she fears instances of trafficking going through the commonwealth. Increased training and reporting techniques outlined in the legislation could address that, she said.

Last year the bill passed the House, and cleared a Senate panel in the waning hours of the session. But it was never taken up in front of the full Senate. During the interim, Overly and Wuchner worked with attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement to fix problems with last year’s draft.

“I give the example of the Criminal Defense Bar – last year they were at the table with us not for the bill but each and every time opposing it,” Overly said. “Ernie Lewis came to me when we finally finished the bill, and he worked on it, and he said ‘I love this bill’.”

Wuchner and Overly said it was a “relief” to have the panel support the bill late in the session and were optimistic for full Senate support. The legislation was placed upon the consent calendar.


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