HARRISBURG, October 18, 2012 – Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) announced that a companion bill to his human trafficking hotline bill, which was approved by both the House and Senate yesterday, is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

That legislation, House Bill 235, was introduced by Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) as a companion bill to Leach’s Senate Bill 338. The bills would require the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number to be placed prominently in certain establishments and locations in an effort to curb the incidence of human trafficking in Pennsylvania and help victims.

“I’d like to thank all of the organizations and individuals who helped raise awareness of the importance of this bill,” Leach said. “Rep. Clymer played an integral part in making the Human Trafficking Hotline bill a law and without his help, none of this would have been possible. Additionally, groups like Polaris Project, Covenant House, Women’s Way and The Wayne Foundation lent their support and helped us move this important legislation forward. This was a true team effort and I couldn’t be happier that the Human Trafficking Hotline number will now be posted in establishments around the state, enabling us to save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

The Department of Health and Human Services funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline — a resource for the community to report suspicious activity that may be trafficking-related. The hotline is free to call, and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This resource saves lives and comes at no cost to the Commonwealth or its citizens.

Polaris Project’s James Dold said, “For too long victims of human trafficking in Pennsylvania have been trapped in forced commercial sex and labor exploitation situations with no one to turn to for help. Yesterday, however, the Pennsylvania Legislature, buoyed by the conviction and leadership of Sen. Leach and Rep. Clymer, passed H.B. 235 which will provide a critical life-line to victims by mandating posting of the NHTRC hotline in locations where victims are most likely to come into contact with it. This legislation is going to help save lives and get vital information to law enforcement so that they can more effectively target, arrest and prosecute human traffickers.”

Sexual exploitation is the most lucrative sector of the trafficking industry, involving anything from prostitution to the commercial sexual abuse of kids. An estimated 200,000 American children are at risk of trafficking each year. Leach noted that this legislation will help those thousands of people who are victims of human trafficking by bringing a higher awareness of this crime to the public.

Hugh Organ, Executive Director of Covenant House PA, said, “This is life saving legislation for human trafficking victims. We are thrilled that the House and Senate passed this bill. We would like to thank Senator Leach and Rep. Clymer for their leadership.”

Jamie Walton, founder of The Wayne Foundation, added, “The Wayne Foundation thanks the Pennsylvania legislature for its action. Posting the NHTRC hotline will help build public awareness of human trafficking issues within the United States and potentially save countless lives. This is a huge victory.”

Though a signing date has not yet been set, H.B. 235 is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Corbett in the near future.

 

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