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Bill to teach students about dangers of human trafficking passes second House panel

Students would be allowed to opt out of the program with parental permission.

A bill to add human trafficking education to Florida’s public school curriculum is moving on to its final panel after it was approved Monday by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

The legislation (HB 259) had already been approved unanimously by the House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee. It will now move on to the House Education Committee.

The bipartisan bill was filed by GOP Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, of Orlando, and Rep. Patricia Williams, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat.

Williams, who serves as the Ranking Democrat on the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, spoke in favor of the bill before the panel.

“This bill will actually shine spotlight on the darkness of human trafficking,” Williams said. “This bill will also be able to help children learn the signs of dangers that are in their neighborhoods and in their schools.”

A companion bill (SB 982) has been filed by Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr., a Fort Lauderdale Democrat. Students would be allowed to opt out of the program with parental permission.

The legislation also sets up a trafficking awareness campaign under the Department of Legal Affairs. The department would also set up a toll-free hotline to forward reports of human trafficking incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

The measure is part of a group of bills aiming to address the human trafficking problem in the state of Florida.

Sen. Lauren Book and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen have a pair of bills looking to increases awareness at hotels, where trafficking often takes place, as well as been up law enforcement training.

And legislation from Sen. Gayle Harrell and Rep. Toby Overdorf would increase mandatory minimums for those convicted of soliciting sex if the sex worker is a victim of trafficking.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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