Wednesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at shaming men and women arrested of trying to hire a prostitute.
House Bill 262 was sponsored by State Representative Merika Coleman, D-Midfield. Coleman is the assistant House Minority Leader and a longtime member of the state’s Human Trafficking task force.
According to a statement by sponsors, HB262 clarifies existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution while making it legal to publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution.
This bill is aimed at deterring “Johns” from purchasing sex and supporting human trafficking while protecting potential victims of human trafficking from public identification.
“Human trafficking is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation. There are more slaves today, an estimated 27 million, than at any point in our nation’s history,” stated Rep. Coleman. “This startling fact shows why the Alabama Legislature must act to combat human trafficking and educate the public about the harsh realities of this growing business.”
State Representative Terri Collins, R-Decatur, cosponsored the legislation with Coleman. Collins is the Chair of the Education Policy Committee.
The sponsors say that this “Modern Day Slavery” is happening here in Alabama as evidenced by the recentlabor trafficking busts at multiple massage parlors in Madison & Morgan Counties.
“I used to purchase gift certificates for my own mother to get foot massages at the very same spas that were shut down,” said bill co-sponsor Collins. “HB264 would have required those same owners to display a human trafficking poster with hotline information, which could have led to a quicker rescue. I think the impact of human trafficking is larger than we realize.”
Collins praised Coleman for her work on the Human Trafficking Task Force along with former State Representative Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills.
State Representative Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, launched a personal attack against Coleman for not helping her and a handful of Democrats filibuster a free speech on college campuses bill earlier in the afternoon. Coleman defended her actions and said that she was a no vote on the bill. Moore said that was not good enough.
State Representative Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, defended Coleman’s conduct.
Republican Majority House Majority Leader Nathanial Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, intervened and invoked a motion to cloture the debate as the war of words between Democrats escalated. The motion to cloture carried and the bill was passed.
The House also passed HB264 clarifying existing state regulations related to the posting of the Human Trafficking Hotline and awareness posters in public places and entertainment establishments by assigning a regulator and increasing fees for non-compliance.