TAKING A STAND: Florida Governor Rick Scott Signs Four Anti-Human Trafficking Bills at Tampa Church


Florida’s Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi

Tampa Bay Times By Emily McConville, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, July 30, 2015 12:04pm

TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed four bills aimed at curbing human trafficking, the latest in a series of efforts by the state to stop the growing crime.

The new laws require posting the number for a victim hotline in public places, increasing the penalties for perpetrators of human trafficking and preventing the release of victims’ names and the location of safe houses.

“This is a really good news day,” Scott said at a ceremony at the Underground Network, a Tampa church that works with victims of human trafficking. “It’s nice to be able to sign these bills, but none of this would have happened if it weren’t for the advocates who are here, individuals who are willing to stand up and talk about it.”

Human trafficking has been an area of special focus for Attorney General Pam Bondi. She formed the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, which works on services for victims and policy recommendations.

“Human trafficking is no longer underground,” she said. “We’re bringing it to the forefront.”

In addition to the legislation, several organizations and agencies received state money to combat human trafficking.

One of those was the Department of Juvenile Justice, which Secretary Christy Daly said implemented a human trafficking screening tool and placed liaisons in probation offices and detention centers.

At the signing, Daly described sex and labor trafficking as a fast-growing crime, often disproportionately affecting children. “Florida is sending a clear message that human trafficking will not be tolerated in our state,” Daly said.

Bridging Freedom, an organization that helps victims of child and sex trafficking, received $1 million, which president Laura Hamilton said will fund a safe house for female victims.

“We will provide a beautiful, safe environment for these girls to find healing, find hope and find purpose,” she said.

Contact Emily McConville at (813) 226-3374 or emcconville@tampabay.com. Follow @emmcconville.

Gov. Rick Scott signs four anti-human trafficking bills at Tampa church 07/30/15 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2015 9:46pm]