FRANKFORT — A bill to strengthen Kentucky’s human trafficking laws and provide more services to victims is headed to Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk to be signed into law.
On Tuesday, the House voted 97-0 to concur with minor changes to House Bill 3 made by the Senate. The measure’s passage brought House members to their feet in a standing ovation for the bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris. A similar proposal stalled in the Senate last year.
“I think this takes the existing law on human trafficking, broadens it, and provides additional tools that police and prosecutors need to identify and convict those who would choose to sell our children,” Overly said after the vote.
The measure would provide more training for law enforcement on human trafficking, allow police and prosecutors to seize assets of those involved in human trafficking and earmark money from the seized assets to pay for victim services. The bill also allows human trafficking victims to receive treatment rather than jail time, a provision sometimes referred to as a safe harbor protection.
Since Kentucky passed its first human trafficking law in 2008, more than 100 victims of human trafficking have been identified, but fewer than 20 of those cases have been prosecuted. In February, Overly told the House that the vast majority of those cases involve Kentucky teens — mainly girls — who had been trafficked for sex by a relative.