- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Convicted sex traffickers would face harsher punishment under a bill that cleared first-round debate in the Nebraska Legislature.

Senators voted 34-0 to advance the measure by Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk that would increase penalties for pimps and would allow prosecutors to seize their personal property. The bill also creates a fund for victims.

Supporters called the bill a public health issue and pointed to reports citing weak enforcement in the state.

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha emphasized the importance of treating trafficked juveniles as victims, not criminals, and making efforts to reunite them with families.

Scheer has designated the bill a priority measure. Attorney General Doug Peterson has also backed the bill.

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The bill is LB294

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