Saying that there is still work to be done, today Sen. Mike Padden oversaw the Senate Law and Justice Committee’s review of several bills aimed at addressing human trafficking.
“The Washington State Legislature has an excellent history of dealing with the issue of human trafficking,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley and chairman of the committee. “Shared Hope International and Polaris – both national organizations – have ranked Washington as one of the top one or two states in the nation as far as our laws against trafficking are concerned. But as long as trafficking exists, as long as young girls are being sold into sexual slavery, we still have work to do.”
The committee heard public testimony on several bills, including:
- Senate Bill 5880, sponsored by Padden, which would enact the Washington human trafficking reporting act;
- Senate Bill 5041, concerning seizure and forfeiture of property for patronizing a prostitute;
- Senate Bill 5883, requiring that human trafficking information be posted in public restrooms; and
- Senate Bill 5884, which would designate the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy as the single point of contact in state government regarding human trafficking.
“The areas we were looking at today dealt with training and education so that people in different industries would be able to spot victims of human trafficking and know where to report that information,” said Padden.
“It’s such a serious issue; it impacts people throughout this state. In addition to the sex trafficking, there’s also human trafficking of farm laborers and others who are forced to work. It affects all Washingtonians, but especially some of our immigrants, who might not know the language and are particularly vulnerable to these predators.”
Padden called the package of bills part of a sustained bipartisan effort on the part of lawmakers to protect victims of trafficking, prosecute those who take advantage of victims, and raise awareness of the seriousness of these crimes.
“I am proud that this has been a bipartisan, bicameral effort,” said Padden. “I’m teaming up with Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), and together we hope to make some further progress on this issue this year.”