- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Legislature approved a measure to create a task force on human trafficking this session, but failed to send the governor a measure aimed at cracking down on advertising sex with trafficking victims.

The task force will be a path to coordinate disparate resources and provide more comprehensive, trauma-informed services to victims, Deborah Hume said Thursday. Hume is a founding member of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition.

“I’m hoping that the task force will be able to address some things that are lacking, like a statewide protocol or statewide strategy for better preventing human trafficking and responding to individuals who’ve been trafficked,” Hume said.

The task force will include advocates for human trafficking survivors, law enforcement, state officials and lawmakers. It’s set to meet over the next 18 months to evaluate Missouri’s policies to combat trafficking.

Rep. Elijah Haahr, R- Springfield, sponsored the measure and said Missouri has a real problem with trafficking, noting a Department of Justice report identified St. Louis as a hub for human trafficking.

“My goal is that this task force can come up with a set of planned and specific policy proposals that when implemented, we would be the No. 1 state in combating human trafficking in the country,” Haahr said.

The task force will also include a circuit court judge, prosecuting attorney, juvenile officer and a medical professional with experience in child abuse and medical forensics. Members will be appointed by the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem or by the department director for representatives from state offices.

Haahr also pushed adding advertising sex with a trafficking victim to the state’s law against human trafficking this session, but the effort got mired after the Senate shut down after a forced vote on a contentious right-to-work measure in the Legislature’s final week.

Haahr said he’s not ruling out reintroducing that but noted the provision was passed by Congress earlier this month as an amendment on a broader human trafficking measure. Missouri’s Rep. Ann Wagner pushed the measure at the national level.

Both Wagner and Haahr, at a Missouri House committee hearing on the bill, said it would crack down on websites that did not cooperate with law enforcement and people who knowingly allowed advertising of sex trafficking victims.

Hume said she hopes both the advertising measure and a bill that would have added human trafficking victims to those eligible for a state address confidentiality program pass next year.

“I don’t think it’s a lost cause,” Hume said of the proposals.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide