Sen. Lauren Book has filed a new version of legislation aimed to fight back against human trafficking, particularly at hotels. This time, however, human trafficking victims won’t be allowed to sue hotels and motels where they were trafficked.
This year’s version of Book’s bill (SB 540) maintains the requirement that employees of a “public lodging establishment” must undergo training to help identify, prevent, and report human trafficking within 30 days of being hired. A code of conduct must also be implemented to guide employees on how to handle suspected trafficking.
The bill would also beef up law enforcement training on trafficking, requiring recruits to undergo a training course developed in consultation with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
But a provision present in last year’s version, which would have permitted lawsuits against establishments that “knowingly and willfully” ignore trafficking on their premises, has been removed.
That portion of last year’s bill led to intense pushback from the hotel industry. And despite passing through every committee with unanimous support, the bill eventually died on the floor.
Book, a Plantation Democrat, says she’s looking to protect sex trafficking victims without reviving that same controversy.
“We’re not trying to create the fights and problems there were last year,” Book said. “We know this is a problem. We know where it’s a problem. And we need to address it.”
The measure would set up a registry of those found to be involved in prostitution, including those convicted of solicitation. DCF would also be directed to create a direct-support organization to aid trafficking victims.
I think, overall, this addresses a lot of the things that we heard from last session,” Book said.
“We’re third in the country when it comes to human trafficking. We need to do better.”