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Human trafficking measures ready for floor action

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Rep. Jackie Toledo

Rep. Jackie Toledo

Bills to help victims of human trafficking are heading to the full Florida House and Senate following committee action on April 6.

The Senate Rules Committee passed SB 1826, by Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah Gardens, and the House Judiciary Committee passed HB 523, by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, which create victim advocates for trafficking victims and make it easier for them to expunge records.

HB 523 “shows the world that Florida does not accept human trafficking, that victims in Florida are not treated like criminals,” Toledo said in explaining her bill. “HB 523 addresses the weaknesses in Florida law that enabled victims to fall back into the cycle of revictimization.”

There are only a patchwork of programs now to help trafficking victims, she said, and the law sets up a victim advocate program, similar to those for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. It would make it easier to expunge records, including allowing a victim to simultaneously seek multiple expungements in multiple jurisdictions, shortening a process that now can take years.

Fees would also be waived for those expungement actions, which can run into the thousands of dollars, Toledo said.

HB 523 passed 19-0. SB 1826 passed the Rules Committee 15-1 without any discussion. Diaz added an amendment to the bill that he said brings the definition of human trafficking into compliance with 2018 changes in federal trafficking laws.

Those were the final committee stops for both bills.



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