Advocacy: 2017 Texas house bills to support

New Friends New Life Supports Legislation that Provides: Protective Provisions for Child Human Trafficking Victims, Expanded Relief for Child and Adult Victims of Human Trafficking and Harsher Penalties for those Buying Children. The following bills are currently before the Texas legislature and promote the positions articulated in the New Friends New Life Legislative Agenda. Please contact your local legislators and tell them to support these bills on behalf of victims and survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation! 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS MODERN-DAY SLAVERY, AND THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE RECEIVES THE 2ND MOST CALLS FROM TEXAS.

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 1 OUT OF EVERY 5 HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PASSES THROUGH OUR STATE. 

We aim to help tackle this growing epidemic by focusing on three main goals during this legislative session:

(1) providing protective provisions for child human trafficking victims

(2) expanding relief for child and adult victims of human trafficking

(3) decreasing demand for sex trafficking

(4) request the lt. governor and the speaker of the house to create a joint interimcommittee to study human trafficking in Texas

Proposed solutions to problems relating to these goals are presented below, with references to bills that are currently before the Texas state legislature that support them.

        I.            Provide Protective Provisions for Child Human Trafficking Victims

(1)  Problem: Children involved in sex trafficking are charged with prostitution offenses in some jurisdictions.

Proposed Solution: Establish support programs that divert rather than convict victims of sex trafficking and programs that educate minors on the risks and warning signs of sex trafficking.

Supporting Bills: HB 1218, HB 2645, SB 2039

(2)  Problem: Buyers of prostitution are difficult to prosecute.

Proposed Solution: Codify that buyers can be prosecuted for sexual acts with children, regardless of whether they knew the age of the victim.  Increase punishment for frequent buyers of prostitution services.

Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1808, HB 2960

     II.            Expand Relief for Child and Adult Victims of Human Trafficking

(1)  Problem: Trafficking victims are forced to do things that result in criminal arrests and convictions. Their criminal record then hinders them from receiving housing and employment opportunities.

Proposed Solution: Allow trafficking victims to request orders of nondisclosure or expunctions for convictions, not just successful completion of deferred adjudication, and for other offenses in addition toprostitution, including theft and drug-related offenses. 

Supporting Bills:  HB 269, HB 2509, SB 1165, SB 1504

  III.            Decrease Demand for Sex Trafficking

(1)  Problem: Currently, buyers of prostitution must offer to engage, agree to engage, or engage in sexual conduct for a fee or solicit another in a “public place” to be convicted of a crime. However, most trafficking activity occurs in private and/or on the Internet.

Proposed Solution: Eliminate the requirement for solicitation in a “public place" and focus additional attention on the growing sex trade online.

Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 2020, HB 2960, SB 1569

(2)  Problem: People who purchase commercial sexual activity are not facing significant penalties.

Proposed Solution: Increase punishments for frequent buyers of commercial sexual activity and make it easier for them to be charged with a crime.

Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1218, HB 1666, HB 1667, HB 1808, HB 2020, HB 2529, HB 2960, SB 811, SB 1433, SB 1569, SB 1579

(3)  Problem: It is currently challenging for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute some traffickers and others who contribute to and benefit financially from prostitution.

Proposed Solution: Expand the meaning of “promotion of prostitution” to include traffickers and others who provide a person for prostitution service, operate or assist to operate a prostitution enterprise, or engage in other conduct designed to institute, aid, or facilitate prostitution so that they too can be prosecuted.

Supporting Bill: HB 2960

(4)  Problem: When individuals are charged with sexual offenses against minors, the statutes do not make it clear that offenders can’t defend themselves by saying that there was no real child involved or they did not know the child’s age.

Proposed Solution: Add language to notify defendants and jurors that individuals can be prosecuted regardless of whether the individual knows of the child’s age or whether the child actually exists.

Supporting Bills: HB 29, HB 1808, HB 2960, SB 1569 


2015 advocacy recap

New Friends New Life  advocates to bring awareness, change laws, raise funds, educate youth, and support survivors of trafficking and exploitation. Watch the video below for a recap of New Friends New Life's 2015 advocacy efforts. 


84th Texas Legislative Session Recap 

Keith Armwood, Superintendent Letot; Dr. HaeSung Han, Letot Clinical Coordinator; Dr. Terry Smith, Exec. Dir. of Dallas County Juvenile Dept.; Congressman Ted Poe; Amanda Jones, Leader & Mentor; Senator John Cornyn; Capt. Jeoff Williams, TX Dept. of Public Safety; Katie Pedigo, Exec. Dir. New Friends New Life; Texas State Representative Morgan Meyer; State Representative Tan Parker

Keith Armwood, Superintendent Letot; Dr. HaeSung Han, Letot Clinical Coordinator; Dr. Terry Smith, Exec. Dir. of Dallas County Juvenile Dept.; Congressman Ted Poe; Amanda Jones, Leader & Mentor; Senator John Cornyn; Capt. Jeoff Williams, TX Dept. of Public Safety; Katie Pedigo, Exec. Dir. New Friends New Life; Texas State Representative Morgan Meyer; State Representative Tan Parker

One week after their Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was signed into law, bill sponsors U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)  and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Houston) joined New Friends New Life for a roundtable discussion and press conference celebrating the passage of the bill that improves law enforcement’s ability to target traffickers and buyers and protect and expand the rights of trafficking victims.   

The Texas Legislature’s 84th Regular Session ended on Monday, June 1, 2015. Throughout the session, New Friends New Life vigorously advocated for the women and girls of Texas. Since Texas ranks #2 in the U.S. for human trafficking, it was clear policy reform was necessary. Gratefully, several policy makers heard our cry for reform and passed bills to make Texas a “no tolerance zone” for traffickers and exploiters and safeguarding the rights of women and girls who have suffered the degradation and trauma of human trafficking.
 
Below is a round-up of our numerous accomplishments this session. 

  • Texas HB 10: addresses various anti-human trafficking efforts, including: increasing the ability to prosecute traffickers by eliminating the statute of limitations for prostitution of children; the addition of human trafficking reporting and training requirements for schools and judiciary members; and the creation of the Child Sex Trafficking Prevention Unit
    Authors: Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Todd Hunter, Oscar Longoria, Tan Parker, Patricia Harless
    Sponsor: Sen. Joan Huffman
    Status: Signed into Law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 9, 2015
     
  • Texas HB 2286: seals criminal history records for victims of human trafficking convicted of prostitution
    Authors: Reps. Tan Parker, Morgan Meyer, Joseph Moody, Pat Fallon
    Sponsor: Sen. Konni Burton
    Status: Signed into Law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 19, 2015

  • Texas HB 2290: designates January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month to increase education and awareness
    Authors: Reps. Tan Parker, Morgan Meyer, John Frullo
    Sponsor: Sen. Joan Huffman
    Status: Signed into Law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 17, 2015

  • Texas HB 2291: increases the punishment for persons convicted of possession or promotion of child pornography
    Authors: Reps. Tan Parker, Morgan Meyer, John Frullo, Jason Villalba, Pat Fallon
    Sponsor: Sen. Charles Perry
    Status: Signed into Law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 18, 2015

  • Texas SB 825: creates distinction between the buyer and the seller in the penal code as it pertains to prosecuting prostitution
    Author: Sen. Joan Huffman
    Sponsor: Rep. Senfronia Thompson
    Status: Signed into Law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 20, 2015

It takes all of us saying, “Not our Children” for these policy reforms to succeed.


texas human trafficking advocacy day

New Friends New Life sent a Dallas delegation to Texas Human Trafficking Advocacy Day.  The group met with Governor Abbott, Speaker Straus, Representative Thompson, Representative Meyer, Senator Huffines, Senator John Whitmire, Representative Helen Giddings, Representative Kenneth Sheets, Senator Royce West and Representative Tan Parker.  We also met with policy advisors to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Chairman Abel Herrero, and Senator Joan Huffman.  The recommendations that New Friends New Life supports from Representative Parker and the Human Trafficking Task Force were well received.