OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 7309

AN ACT CONCERNING HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

SUMMARY

This bill makes various changes to laws that pertain to human trafficking. The bill principally:

1. expands the Trafficking in Persons Council's membership and the council's charge;

2. expands the conduct punishable as a trafficking in persons crime and increases the penalty for the crime;

3. reduces the penalty for patronizing a prostitute when the victim is under age 18 or is a trafficking victim;

4. makes commercial sexual abuse of a minor a crime punishable as a class B felony with a nine-month mandatory minimum prison sentence and a $5,000 fine;

5. requires more people and entities to post a notice about services for human trafficking victims and imposes a penalty for violations;

6. requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner to consult with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) commissioner in developing an educational and refresher training program related to human trafficking; and

7. requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) commissioner, in consultation with specified state agencies, to examine the federal executive order regarding strengthening protections against human trafficking in federal contracts, in order to implement similar provisions for state contracts.

It also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017, except the provision on the DAS commissioner's examination of the federal executive order is effective upon passage.

1 — TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS COUNCIL

Membership

The bill increases the council's membership from 25 to 27 by adding an adult trafficking victim and the education commissioner or her designee.

Responsibilities

By law, the council must (1) coordinate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data regarding human trafficking and (2) meet to provide updates and progress reports and consult with government and nongovernmental organizations in developing recommendations on trafficking efforts.

The bill expands the council's charge by requiring it to develop:

1. a list of key trafficking victim indicators;

2. a standardized curriculum and conduct training for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, emergency medical services personnel, teachers, school counselors, school administrators, and DCF and DPH personnel to identify and assist trafficking victims;

3. training for DCF and DPH personnel on methods to identify foster care children who may be at risk of becoming trafficking victims, and conduct such training;

4. a plan for mental health, support, and substance abuse programs for individuals identified as trafficking victims and those arrested for prostitution.

Plan for Trafficking Victims' Programs

Under the bill, the plan for mental health, support, and substance abuse programs for trafficking victims must provide for the:

1. diversion of trafficking victims and prostitution offenders into community-based treatment and support services, including substance abuse recovery, housing, healthcare, job training, treatment, and mental health support; and

2. after the successful completion of the program, the dismissal of any related criminal charges against the accused.

Reporting Recommendations

The bill requires the council to include the plan, and any recommendations for legislation to implement it, as part of its annual report to the legislature, starting by January 1, 2018.

The bill also requires the council to examine the plight of trafficking victims who do not have legal immigration status. It allows the council to include in any of its reports, recommendations for services that could benefit those individuals and legislation to provide such services.

2 — TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

The bill expands the trafficking in persons crime to include the commission of a sex trafficking act.

Under the bill, “sex trafficking” means recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting someone for the purpose of a commercial sex act.

Currently, one way to commit this crime is to compel or induce someone under age 18 to engage in sexual contact that is prostitution or illegal sexual contact with a third person.

The bill also increases, from a class B felony to class A felony, the penalty for the trafficking in persons crime.

By law, a class B felony is punishable by one to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $15,000, or both. A class A felony is punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison, a fine up to $20,000, or both.

3 & 10 — PATRONIZING A PROSTITUTE

Patronizing a Prostitute

The bill reduces, from a class C felony to a class A misdemeanor, the penalty for patronizing a prostitute if the victim is under age 18 or a trafficking victim.

By law, a class C felony is punishable by one to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. By law, other cases of patronizing a prostitute are a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a mandatory $2,000 fine.

Patronizing a Prostitute From a Motor Vehicle

The bill repeals the patronizing a prostitute from a motor vehicle statute and the corresponding impoundment statute. The provisions of these repealed statutes are addressed under existing patronizing a prostitute and forfeiture laws. Under existing law, patronizing a prostitute from a motor vehicle carries the same penalty as other cases of patronizing a prostitute as described above.

4 — COMMERCIAL SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR

Under the bill, a person is guilty of commercial sexual abuse of a minor when the person:

1. pays a fee to a minor (under age 18) or third person as compensation for a minor engaging in sexual conduct with such person;

2. pays or agrees to pay a fee to a minor or a third person pursuant to an understanding that in return for such fee the minor will engage in sexual conduct with such person; or

3. solicits, offers, or requests to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, or any other person that such person reasonably believes to be a minor, in return for a fee.

The bill makes commercial sexual abuse of a minor a class B felony punishable by a nine-month mandatory minimum prison sentence and a fine of $5,000.

5 — HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM SERVICES NOTICE

Notice

The bill requires more people and entities to post a notice developed by the Office of the Chief Court Administrator about services for human trafficking victims.

It expands the types of service operators that must post the notice. Currently, any publicly or privately operated service plazas, hotels, motels, similar lodgings, and businesses that offer for sale or promote performances for adult audiences must post it. The bill requires operators of the following services to post this notice:

1. businesses that engage in the impermissible operation of a business that permits unlicensed individuals to practice massage therapy;

2. massage parlors, as defined by the applicable municipal ordinance, that significantly impact the safety of the surrounding area;

3. public airports;

4. acute care hospital emergency rooms;

5. urgent care facilities;

6. passenger rail or bus service stations; and

7. employment agencies that offer personnel services to any operator required to post the notice.

With certain exceptions, the law requires someone to post the notice if he or she holds an on-premises consumption permit for the retail sale of alcohol. Existing exceptions include caterers, railroads, boats, airlines, charitable organizations, and special clubs. The bill eliminates the exception for railroads and airlines.

Under current law, the notice must be posted in plain view in a conspicuous location where sales occur. The bill expands this requirement to include locations where the labor and services are provided or performed, tickets are sold, and other transactions occur.

By law, this notice must state the toll-free state and federal anti-trafficking hotline numbers that someone can use if he or she is forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave.

Penalty

Under the bill, any operator or person who fails to comply with the victim-notice provision is subject to a $100 fine for the first offense and $250 fine for any subsequent offense. Additionally, violators are subject to any license, permit, or certificate suspension or revocation proceeding that an appropriate authority may initiate.

6 — DCF EDUCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM

The bill requires the DCF commissioner, in consultation with the DESPP commissioner, to develop and approve an educational and refresher training program to accurately and promptly identify and report suspected human trafficking.

The program must include a video presentation that offers awareness of human trafficking issues and guidance to:

1. law enforcement personnel;

2. Superior Court judges;

3. prosecutors, public defenders, and attorneys who represent criminal defendants;

4. hospital emergency room and urgent care facility staff who have contact with patients; and

5. local or regional board of education, University of Connecticut, or Connecticut state college or university employees who have contact with students. (The bill does not specify what “contact” means.)

These individuals must complete the initial educational training by July 1, 2018 and refresher training annually thereafter. New hires must complete the initial training within six months after their start date or by July 1, 2018, whichever is later.

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE ORDER 13627

The bill requires the DAS commissioner to examine the federal Executive Order 13627, Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts, in order to adapt and implement similar provisions for state contracts. She must do so in consultation with the chief state's attorney; the attorney general; the Office of Policy and Management secretary; and the DCF, DESPP, labor, and social services commissioners. She must also (1) immediately implement any adapted provisions that may be implemented administratively and (2) report her recommendations for legislation to the legislature by January 1, 2018.

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

sHB 7310, reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee, increases, from a class C felony to a class B felony, the penalty for patronizing a prostitute if the victim is under age 16. It maintains existing law's penalty of a class C felony if the victim is age 16 or 17 or a trafficking victim.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

39

Nay

0

(04/04/2017)