State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/Montgomery) today held a press conference to announce the approval of his human trafficking hotline bill by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.
That bill, Senate Bill 338, would require posting of the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline in establishments with a liquor license, those offering massage services, spas, hotels and motels found to be a nuisance, adult entertainment clubs, and places of transit. The Department of Health and Human Services funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline — a free 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. Leach said this resource saves lives and comes at no cost to the Commonwealth or its citizens.
“Human trafficking is a dark issue that no one wants to talk about and that no one thinks can happen in their communities, but it can happen anywhere,” Leach said. “With that in mind, I’ve made it my goal to shine a light on human trafficking by raising awareness to build community involvement and bring perpetrators to justice. I am grateful the hotline bill was approved by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee today and I am hopeful for its passage on the Senate floor.”
At press conference, Leach was joined by Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) and advocates from Polaris Project, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, Covenant House Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
James Dold, Policy Counsel for Polaris Project, said, “There are countless human trafficking victims across Pennsylvania who don’t know where to turn. This critical legislation will help us reach more victims and educate the entire community about how to fight this brutal crime.”
Hugh Organ, Associate Executive Director of Covenant House Pennsylvania, described the bills introduced by Sen. Leach and Rep. Clymer as rays of light on the horizon.
Krista Hoffman, Criminal Justice Specialist with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, explained that when she tells people that human trafficking occurs in Pennsylvania, they either deny it or ask what the state is doing to put a stop to it. She added that she’s been working with trafficking victims for the past 16 years and that Pennsylvania is, indeed, doing its part to bring victims to safety and perpetrators to justice.
According to Polaris Project, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, an industry that brings in billions of dollars through illegal activity. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is available in more than 170 languages and links callers to more than 3,000 resources across the country.
Leach said Senate Bill 338 will now move to the full Senate for consideration.