Alabama Legislature unanimously passes human trafficking bills

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State capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, at night

Special to the
Opelika Observer

Last week, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed two bi-partisan human trafficking bills: HB261 and HB262. Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) sponsored both bills, and Sen. Cam Ward (R- Alabaster) guided each through the Senate. The bills now head to Governor Ivey for signature.
HB261 requires all new commercial driver licensees to undergo industry-specific human trafficking training. Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization that trains truckers on identifying human trafficking victims in their daily work life, will work with junior colleges and trade schools to facilitate the training.
With passage of HB261, Alabama becomes the ninth state to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking and pass a law mandating human trafficking training for new CDL drivers.
“Professional truck drivers are in a critical position to recognize human trafficking, and when properly equipped, to know how to respond,” said Deputy Political Director of Truckers Against Training Kylla Lanier. “To know that Alabama has decided to educate and empower the next generation of professional drivers at the CDL school level with anti-trafficking training is phenomenal!”
HB262 clarifies existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution, while allowing for publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution. The bill is aimed at deterring “John’s” from purchasing sex and supporting human trafficking, while protecting potential victims of human trafficking from public identification.
“This is another step in expanding the tools in the toolbox to combat human trafficking,” Coleman said. “I want to thank the House co-sponsor, Rep. Terri Collins, and Senate sponsor, Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison and co-sponsor Sen. Cam Ward.”
“We could not have done this without Sen. Ward’s tremendous dedication and work in seeing them over the finish line before sine die,” Coleman added. “I look forward to continuing this bi-partisan work next year, perhaps following Florida’s lead in requiring human trafficking awareness in schools.”
The legislature also passed two human trafficking resolutions. HJR145 encourages ALEA to continue developing curriculum to ensure that every officer in the state is trained regarding human trafficking.
HJR244 creates the Alabama Healthcare Human Trafficking Training Program Commission, which is tasked with developing a training module for all healthcare related employees to readily identify and provide trauma-centered care for human trafficking victims.
“With the human trafficking bills and resolutions passing through the legislature this week, Alabama is sending a very loud and powerful message to traffickers that we are extremely serious about stopping these horrible crimes,” said Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force Chair Pat McCay. “A big thank you to everyone who called and emailed their legislators to make this a reality.”

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