Missouri will soon have a human trafficking task force.
A resolution to establish that task force was unanimously passed by the Missouri legislature in the session that ended Friday. The task force will be responsible for raising awareness, providing organizations and agencies that enforce human trafficking laws a central place to share information, and making recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly.
State Representative Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) sponsored the resolution and said the task force has not been set up yet, but positions will be filled in the coming weeks.
“It would be a variety of sitting Representatives, Senators, some members of non-governmental organizations, and a variety of other affiliated groups that would have input on the best way to combat the trafficking issue in Missouri,” said Haahr. “The point of the task force is to meet during the 2015 year and then to come back and have some proposals about what it is that the legislature can do to in order to coordinate an take on the trafficking issues in the state of Missouri.”
Haahr doesn’t want to stop there. He says he will continue to push for stricter trafficking laws by proposing legislation that would make illegal any advertisements that could lead to human trafficking. Haahr proposed a bill that would ban such advertisements this year, but the Senate did not take a vote on it.
“It’s not that anybody was ever opposed to it, it received unanimous votes along the way,” said Haahr. “When the Senate had its last week where it didn’t really pass anything other than right to work and the FRA, 152 was sitting on the Senate calendar and it just never got past the finish line.”
Haahr blames Senate Democrats for filibustering after passage of a “right to work” bill, for the human trafficking legislation being left unheard on the Senate calendar.
U.S Representative Ann Wagner has proposed a similar bill at the federal level.
“I want to compliment her on all her work and the fact that she’s finally got that through the U.S. House, and U.S. Senate, and it’s on its way to the president,” said Haahr. “Obviously, what I’m doing on the state is just a small version of what she’s doing on the federal level.”
Proponents of trafficking legislation say the human trafficking industry generates $150-billion a year in profits worldwide, with an estimated 21-million victims, 5.5 million of those being children.