A prime example of how quickly legislation can go from good to bad came in the form of legislation, passed by the Senate in June, that purported to strengthen the state’s laws against human trafficking, but in fact undermined the law entirely. Publicly declared as legislation meant to further differentiate between consensual prostitution and human trafficking, the legislation actually eliminated that differentiation, imposing the same penalties – including up to twenty years in prison – against those who participate in consensual sex work as those who kidnap and force victims into the sex trade. In March, the ACLU testified before the House and Senate Judiciary committees that the bill would undoubtedly penalize individuals involved in prostitution, while glutting the system and making it more difficult for victims of human trafficking to receive help. The Senate passed the legislation in June and the House Judiciary committee approved a version of the legislation shortly thereafter, but the bill never reached the House floor for a vote and died.
Trafficking of Persons (H 7612A, S 2602)
Representative Mary Messier and Senator Erin Lynch Prata
Passed Senate, Died in House