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Human Trafficking Bill Signed

Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Tilley praisenew human-trafficking law signed today

Frankfort – With Gov. Beshear’s signature this morning of House Bill 3, Kentucky now has an important new tool to tackle human trafficking, state Rep. John Tilley and Sen. Whitney Westerfield said today. As co-chairmen of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, they played influential roles in getting the bill passed unanimously through the House and Senate. Both said it is considered “model” legislation nationally by experts and advocates for the issue. “As we unfortunately saw just earlier this month in a Clarksville, Tenn., case having ties to Hopkinsville, this is a crime that knows no geographic bounds,” said Rep. Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, who was a sponsor of the bill. “This law, however, will go a long way in helping us to fight back while better protecting the victims.” “We’re hearing more and more stories from law enforcement about this crime, which is often referred to as ‘modern-day slavery,’” said Rep. Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville. “With this new law, it will be a lot easier for police officers and prosecutors to go after the traffickers and, hopefully, to keep others from ever coming to Kentucky. We also call on anyone who has information about this crime to report it to the proper authorities.” House Bill 3 builds on earlier law adopted in 2007. Since then, more than 100 human-trafficking victims have been identified across the state, with more than half being children and most being female, according to the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. Under the updated law, those charged with human trafficking will now face tougher penalties, including seizure of assets used in the crime and a $10,000 fine that will go into a fund dedicated to helping human-trafficking victims. There also will also be more training to help law enforcement be better prepared in these cases. Human-trafficking victims, meanwhile, will not be charged with crimes they were forced to commit, such as prostitution. Instead, they will be eligible for state services provided by the Cabinet for Health and Human Services. “This is one of this year’s biggest laws, and I’m proud I could play a role,” Rep. Tilley said. “I want to thank Sen. Westerfield for his work as well, because he was key to its passage in the Senate.” Sen. Westerfield said the work on this legislation “shows just what can happen when we work together in a bipartisan way. I’m proud to see it become law and stand ready to do more if we need to.”