The State House unanimously passed three bills on Wednesday and Thursday aimed at combating human trafficking.
Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, Assistant Minority Leader, and Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, Education Policy Chair, co-sponsored the bills.
“This is a great step in continuing the fight against human trafficking,” Coleman said. “The unanimous, bi-partisan passage of all three bills and two resolutions show the Legislature’s dedication to combating one of the most pressing crises facing our state.”
Collins said the Alabama House of Representatives sent a strong message to the public by unanimously passing these bills.
“We worked with over 30 organizations across the state on these bills, and we are grateful to our partners for their hard-work and dedication to combat this growing issue,” Collins said.
HB261 would require all new commercial driver licenses to undergo industry-specific human trafficking training developed and administered by Truckers Against Trafficking.
HB262 clarifies existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution while allowing for publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring
Prostitution. This bill is meant to protect potential victims of human trafficking from public identification and to deter individuals from purchasing sex.
HB264 clarifies 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.
The State House also passed unanimously two resolutions aimed at combating human trafficking. The first resolution encourages the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to continue developing curriculum to ensure that every officer in the state is trained regarding human trafficking.
According to END IT Alabama, a project of the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to the illegal drug trade, and is estimated to be a $32 billion industry annually.
HB261 heads to the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee and HB262 and HB264 head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.