Kohl-Welles’ latest anti-trafficking bill signed into law
Washington state continued to be a pioneer in the fight to combat human trafficking today when Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5884, legislation creating a human trafficking information clearing house and activating the former Washington State Task Force on the Trafficking of Persons.
“In order to stop the scourge of human trafficking in our state, we need a coordinated and unified response,” said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the legislation. “There are many groups working hard to combat human trafficking. With this legislation, it is my hope that they can all put their heads together, share resources and work together as a team to end this despicable practice.”
SB 5884 establishes a single point of contact within the State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy in the Department of Commerce for advocacy groups and service providers. The clearing house serves as a pool of information so trafficking survivors and citizens can access the most comprehensive and current information regarding statewide efforts to curb trafficking.
SB 5884 also reauthorizes the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee to continue their work implementing a model protocol for addressing commercially sexually exploited youth and gathering critical data to shed further light on the issue.
“This critical piece of legislation allows us to continue data collection and oversight on this vulnerable population so that we can fashion effective and coordinated responses that will save their lives,” said Bobbe Bridge, CEO of the Center for Children and Youth Justice and former King County Superior Court judge. “The Center for Children and Youth Justice is grateful to Senator Kohl-Wells and Representative Tina Orwall for their leadership.”
SB 5884 also allows establishments that have public bathrooms to post an informational poster that provides information for victims of trafficking and lists a toll-free phone number victims can call if in danger or being held captive. The poster would provide information in multiple languages. The creation and placement of the posters would be funded by a private, non-profit organization. Providing these posters in public places may give victims the chance to see that there are resources available to them and that they can get help, noted Kohl-Welles. Such posters have been placed in restroom facilities in highway rest stops as a result of Kohl-Welles’ legislation that was enacted in 2010.
Since 2002, the Washington State Legislature has enacted 38 laws to combat human trafficking and has been recognized nationally for its work on the issue.