Governor Jay Nixon (D) will sign tomorrow legislation that will make the advertising of sex with victims of trafficking a felony.

Representative Elijah Haahr (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Elijah Haahr (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill will add such advertising to the state’s definition of trafficking, which is a felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or 10-years in prison or life, depending on the age of the victim.

The bill’s sponsor, Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield), said other aspects of trafficking were being punished but those advertising it were getting away.

“What essentially we realized is there’s a loophole in the law, and this is a way to close that loophole,” said Haahr.

Haahr said trafficking is a major issue in Missouri.

“The FBI estimates St. Louis is one of the top 20 trafficking destinations in the country. With I-49, I-70, and I-44 cutting across the state, it’s one that I think impacts Missouri to a much more significant level than most people understand,” said Haahr.

Haahr chairs a committee that he told Missourinet will meet later this year, and will prepare a report recommending more legislation and other initiatives to fight trafficking in Missouri.

The legislation also includes language that tightens controls on who can access videos and photos of interviews with victims of child sex crimes. Backers said there were cases in which such videos were released to a college class, wound up on YouTube, or even were given to the person accused of abusing the child in the video.

Another provision allows sex trafficking victims to use a state program to keep their addresses confidential, to help them hide from their abductors.

The new law becomes effective August 28.