Michigan senators introduce additional human trafficking legislation

LANSING—Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee Chair Judy Emmons on Thursday announced the introduction of additional bipartisan bills to address human trafficking.

“In September we introduced the original 19 bills. Consequently, additional issues were brought to our attention by involved citizens,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “I am proud to announce that we have worked with these many individuals on new legislation to help the men, women and children subjected to these unspeakable crimes.”

The new bills will:
• Provide civil liability immunity to professionals who report a reasonable suspicion of human trafficking. This could be someone such as a school administrator, nurse or any other person who has a professional interaction with the public.
• Require proof that a Department of Human Services employee has visited the foster home they are assigned to and the child was physically present in the home at that time.
• Classify a foster child who has run away as a missing person.

“The point is to ensure that those with the greatest opportunity to become aware of human trafficking activities do not have a disincentive to report their suspicions,” Emmons said. “Sadly, many times foster children go missing and no one is looking for them. This is because under current law they are not classified as a missing person.”

Emmons said that studies have shown a large percentage of those involved in the sex industry come straight from the foster care system. In some cases, those charged with caring for these children do not report them missing because they would then lose state funds.

“This is appalling and these bills will help fight back against this tragedy,” said Emmons. “While I am helping lead the charge on this issue, I am not the only member of the Senate sponsoring these pieces of legislation.”

Other senators sponsoring the new bills include: Sens. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek; Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights; Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield; Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids; Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba; Mike Green, R-Mayville; Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor; John Proos, R-St. Joseph; Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale; Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc; Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; and Joe Hune, R-Hamburg.

“We are fortunate to have so many lawmakers focused on eradicating human trafficking in Michigan,” Emmons said. “Trafficking is a real issue that affects real people here in our state.”

As public awareness has grown, legislators have been asked to give presentations on this topic.

Emmons and other members will be embarking on a statewide tour during the next several months. Details and tour locations will be announced at a later date.              

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