A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Beshear signs bill strengthening human trafficking statutes, includes immunity for victims

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday signed into law legislation that would strengthen Kentucky’s human trafficking statutes.

House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, sponsored the measure, saying we have an education issue in the state of knowing exactly what human trafficking is.

Rep. Suzanne Miles

“This bill is very specific on following federal guidelines,” she told reporters when she filed the bill on Feb. 28. “We’ve also added a lot of signage in public areas, and I think that is where most of our human trafficking going to be, in public transportation areas.”

The signage, which includes the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, would be required in public restrooms at all airports, truck stops, bus and train stations, and truck stops.

She says there are some changes to criminal law regarding human trafficking.  “In the past, only human trafficking victims under 18 were listed on the registry. This will include if they were a victim above 18. That item is one Attorney General Daniel Cameron wanted to make sure we had.

“We think we have a collaborative from every direction; from prosecutors, attorneys and also victims’ advocates.”

Miles said another aspect of the bill is immunity for victims who are part of the commercial sex trade.

“A lot of times, people didn’t understand that person who might have been charged with prostitution, might have been the victim, instead of the criminal, some immunity on that and actually going after the criminal who put them in this position.”

She noted human trafficking is a growing concern. “Especially for the larger events that take place in the state. The Kentucky Derby is a prime example, the National Farm Machinery Show.  Those two items are our largest attended events in the state of Kentucky, and I think anytime we bring in people from outside our state, whenever we start corresponding our laws to other states, and at the federal level, I think we get a better grip on not encouraging people to some into our state and do criminal activity.”

The bill won unanimous approval from both chambers of the General Assembly; 87-0 in the House and 33-0 in the Senate.

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