Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-7309

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

Vote Date:

4/4/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/27/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Recommendation from the Trafficking in Persons Council (TIP). During time of public hearings an article in the Hartford Courant dated Friday, March 31st was brought to the attention of the committee regarding a case of human trafficking of young men with mental health issues, reinforcing the need for this bill.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Substitute language adds an adult victim of trafficking, appointed by the Governor to the Trafficking in Persons Council, increases penalties for patronizing a minor, and increases the list of businesses and establishments that are required to post signage about human trafficking.

Language eliminates farm that employs persons as laborers under section 5 line 157.

Section 6 has effective date change to Oct. 1, 2017 for educational and refresher training programs to be initiated by the Commissioner of Children and Families in consultation with the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Office of the Victim Advocate, State Victim Advocate Natasha M. Pierre: As a member of the Trafficking in Persons Council, she supports the recommended changes to expand the council, to increase the list of businesses and establishments that are required to post signage concerning human trafficking, develop key indicators to identify victims of human trafficking, increase penalties, and provide additional training for law enforcement and other professionals that come into daily contact with victims of human trafficking.

Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors, Executive Director Steven Hernandez and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Council, Chair Jillian Gilchrest: Supporting this bill will enhance the safety and well-being of their constituent groups. The Council is pleased to see this bill target the demand side of sex trafficking which they are currently working on a three-year plan to address. They are in support of the bill, but do find one piece of the provision problematic that addresses illicit massage businesses. Members of TIP and the Chief State's Attorney Office met and are in agreement that sec. 53a-83a patronizing a prostitute from a motor vehicle is antiquated and no longer necessary and should be repealed from the state statutes.

Department of Children and Families: DCF recognizes the need for additional training programs and resources, but are concerned with the challenge of producing the required information within existing resources. They also expressed concerns regarding the fact that educating our children and youth in their communities is just as important as those that are trained to identify potential victims. It is unfortunate that the trends of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children also indicate to DCF that there are many unidentified victims in our state that are in need of rescue and support.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Senator Cathy Osten, 19th District: Specifically supports sections 8 & 9 of the bill. Barring lodging facilities from offering hourly rates and requiring identification can have a huge impact in curbing human trafficking in our state.

Representative Russell Morin and Representative Michelle Cook: They support many of the provisions of the bill, but feel the bill will be stronger with a few language changes: Adding an adult victim of human trafficking to the council, ensuring curriculum is made mandatory for professionals identifying or assisting victims of human trafficking, and deleting section 8 that may have unintended consequences for both hotel and motel patrons and operators.

State Representative Noreen S. Kokoruda, 101st Assembly District: Strongly supports. She feels we need to strengthen our laws to help protect people who became entrenched in a world that most did not choose to join. Increasing the penalties for anyone who patronizes a prostitute, and training medical professionals to recognize the warning signs and signals that an individual may be the victim of trafficking is a step in the right direction to putting an end to sex and human trafficking.

Connecticut Bar Association, Pamela LeBlanc: She is a member of the CBA's Special Committee on Sex Trafficking of Children and supports on behalf of the committee. This bill is in line with their committee's identified goals specifically increasing the penalty for trafficking in persons, including commercial sexual abuse of minors. Educating the public that trafficked persons are victims of sexual abuse not prostitutes shifts the focus from the victims perceived conduct to the perpetrators' harm.

CT Greenhouse Growers Association, Executive Director: The CGGA represents the interest of some 200 family-owned greenhouse growers and farmers of the State of CT that certainly encourages laws to protect women, children, and seniors against abuse and human trafficking but have concerns and are perplexed about the inclusion of the state's family farms in this proposed legislation. If CT family farms are to be considered in this proposed legislation we should have a designee on the TIP Council. This legislation could potentially cause undue burden and impediments to the daily operation of a family farm. They are asking family farms be removed from section 5, subsection A of the proposed bill. (Addressed in substitute language.)

Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in CT, Board President Carolyn Treiss: They are the new volunteer run organization, created as a result of the elimination of the former state agency of the same name. They are willing to be a resource for this and any other legislation affecting CT's women and are commending the Judiciary Committee and the TIP for working towards punishing the crime of purchasing sex be treated for what it is – an act of violence against women and children.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Supports this bill that proposed several recommendations by the TIP of which CCADV is a members. They support efforts to create greater protections for victims of human trafficking and greater accountability for those who support these horrific crimes.

Center for Youth Leadership and Stamford Youth Services Bureau: In support of, and their testimony focuses on signage at various businesses regarding human trafficking and the creation of an educational training program and refresher course for those dealing with victims of trafficking. Three suggestions for amendments to the bill are: 1.Require signage in taxi cabs, taxi stations, and at truck driving schools, 2. Require the design of multiple posters, 3. Require designer of posters to seek input from several sources including TIP before finalizing. They strongly endorse the training and annual refresher course including training school staff.

CT Alliance To End Sexual Violence, Director of Policy & Public Relations Kaitlyn Fydenkevez: Supports the changes to the state's current trafficking statute, especially the charge to TIP to develop a list of traits that may indicate if someone is a victim of trafficking and curriculum for training. Making small technical changes, like upgrading the felony class of certain trafficking crimes, as well as attempting to end the practice of hourly room rentals at hotels and motels is an effective way to craft long-lasting and inclusive policies to fight human trafficking.

Village for Families & Children, Inc., Human Anti-trafficking Response Team Coordinator Yvette Young: The Village was selected by Department of Children and Families to partner with them in their Human Trafficking efforts and supports this bill. Amendments recommended in HB 7309 will further protect victims of human trafficking while holding those responsible for their victimization accountable for their actions and increasing the felony charges for patronizing a minor is critical. The recommendations related to trainings and curriculum development is essential in fostering awareness within our communities about human trafficking and the impact on victims. They feel it is time that human trafficking victims are shown that their exploiters will not go unseen or unpunished. Exploiters should be held accountable for their criminal actions.

CT Based Writer, Raymond Bechard: Mr. Bechard is the author of “The Berlin Turnpike: a True Story of Human Trafficking in America”, which details a precedent –setting federal human trafficking trial that took place here in Hartford over 10 years ago. He conducts extensive human trafficking trainings for law enforcement across CT and for first responders. By doing all these trainings he has come to realize we all fall short in providing real-world assistance to the victims of this crime. Definitely agrees the Commissioner of Education or their designee should be added to the Trafficking in Persons Council as well as an adult victim of human trafficking. ( Adult victim of Human Trafficking member addressed in substitute language.) He believes the training for those dealing with victims of human trafficking should be mandatory and developing mental health, substance abuse programs for individuals identified as victims of trafficking and those arrested for prostitution is crucial for saving lives in CT. Creating awareness with posters and signs in certain businesses in which victims are most likely to see them and use the information to get help, currently none of the 30 plus “Adult Dance Clubs” strip joints in CT have these signs and are not aware of the signage requirement. He would strongly urge additional language that takes into account the reality of how this crime against young people takes place online including commercial sexual acts or performances by a minor whether or not the person paying a fee for the sex act is in physical contract or the same physical location with the minor. It is time we face the stark realities of forced and exploited labor in the supply chains of goods we purchase. A different crime than commercial sexual exploitation, all of us are complicit in slave labor on a daily basis.

Victim of Human Trafficking, Jenn: Jenn tells the stories of another victim Marie and herself whom both were victims of human trafficking and the struggles they faced with not only pimps, drug addiction, sexual assault but the terror of going through trial. She feels the system let her and many others like her down and feels this legislation is a good step in the right direction especially the sections calling for mental health support, substance abuse programs, housing, healthcare and job training for victims of trafficking and anyone arrested for prostitution can save lives. She spoke for those who have no voice, victims of human trafficking who are waiting for someone to lift them out of their nightmare and stand with them as they reclaim their lives.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

CT Farm Bureau, Executive Director Henry N. Talmage: They are greatly concerned with the inclusions of “farms” in Section 5 (a)(1) of the bill that identifies business types that would be subject to requirements posting of notices as described in the bill related to human trafficking. There is absolutely no justification for farms to be included in this legislation. Of the 6000 farms in CT only 1/3 of them have a single outside employee. Oppose the bill as drafted and they encourage amendment to remove farms from the bill. (Addressed in substitute language.)

CT Nursery and Landscape Association, Legislative Co-Chair Darryl Newman: As a group that advocates for betterment of Horticulture in CT, they are concerned about the inclusion of farms in the requirement for posting notices as related to human trafficking. There is no evidence of such activities occurring on farms in general, and they are concerned of the implication that there is such an issue. CNLA asks that agriculture be left out of the bill (Addressed in substitute language.)

Henry J Martoccio: Not in support of this bill. Mr. Martoccio feels that all bills fail to address the needs of all disabled in CT.

Reported by: Staci M. Roy

Date: 4/24/2017