2019 Texas Legislative Agenda
Promoting legislation, providing education and raising awareness to help prevent Human Trafficking.
Please let your legislators know you support the Operation Texas Shield & #FightForUs Agenda
INITIATIVE 1 - PREVENTION AND DEMAND REDUCTION
The SMART Act - Standardizing the Minimum Age Requirement for Texas Sexually Oriented Businesses
Senator Joan Huffman and Representative Rick Miller
SB 923 in the Senate unanimously passed out of the State Affairs Committee by a 6-0 vote, listed on the "Local and Uncontested Calendar" which means it should pass the Senate uncontested.
HB 2336 in the House has been referred to the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee.
The two bills will be slightly different with HB 2336 regulating everyone on premises while SB 923 only addresses employees
Standardizing the Minimum Age Requirement for Texas Sexually Oriented Business to 21 (from the current age of 18).
Let’s get SMART about SOBs!
Declaring Human Trafficking as a "Public Issue"
Representatives Rick Miller
Status: HCR 35 Waiting to be read on the House Floor for a vote
Passing a Legislative Resolution of this kind elevates the issue and increases the prioritization to develop necessary and appropriate action plans within various state and private entities (municipalities, ISDs, law enforcement, major corporations).
The "Texas Model"
Senator Joan Huffman and Representative Sefronia Thompson
Status: SB 20 in the Senate passed out of the State Affairs Committee 6-0, and was recommended for the "Local and Uncontested" calendar which means it should pass the Senate uncontested
HB 15 Referred to The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in the House
OTS Developed legislative ideas intended to drive down demand by increasing law enforcement efforts and associated penalties toward buyers of commercial sex acts. Instead of promoting an alternative bill, OTS fully supports and collaborates with Children At Risk’s “Texas Model” approach.
INITIATIVE 2 – SURVIVOR SUPPORT
The "Clean Start Bill"
Senator Joan Huffman and Representative Sefronia Thompson
SB 20 In the Senate, which includes the Clean Start language, passed out of the State Affairs Committee 6-0, and was recommended for the "Local and Uncontested" calendar which means it should pass the Senate uncontested
SB 1801 in the Senate contains exclusively the Clean Start language and may never be heard in committee if SB 20 becomes law
HB 1216 in the House has been referred to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Allowing individuals convicted of prostitution (and other non-violent crimes) to clear their criminal record if they have been verified as victims of trafficking (now included as part of the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force omnibus bill), thus allowing them a true clean start.
INITIATIVE 3 – ENHANCING CRIMINAL PENALTIES
The "POTS" Bill - Pimps Off The Streets
Representative Rick Miller Senator Joan Huffman
HB 2731 in the House has been referred to The Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee
SB 1802 and SB 1803 in the Senate both contain separate elements of the POTS bill. They are waiting to be referred to a Senate Committee
Pimps Off The Streets is a bill that would end the revolving door that currently allows the significant majority of pimps convicted of promoting or compelling prostitution to receive deferred adjudication as their only sentence and never serving any jail time.
INITIATIVE 4 – AIDING LAW ENFORCEMENT
Six Teams for Texas
Senator Eddie Lucio
SB 291 in the Senate has been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee where a very similar bill was denied a hearing 2017's 85th Legislative session
This is not a bill, but an important budget initiative requested by DPS and supported by the Governor. We seek the Legislature provision of funds to establish a state-wide DPS sex trafficking task force to create a team in each of Texas’ 6 existing DPS regions. With dedicated resources, each team will be properly equipped and trained to identify and locate trafficking victims and criminals, stand prepared to assist local law enforcement teams or take the lead if local teams lack the training and expertise. These officers would also maintain relationships with public and private victim advocacy and support organizations to ensure victims receive the assistance they need instead of jail time.
What we KNOW
It is growing explosively and it is infiltrating all parts of our communities. It is often quite different than the stereotypical examples you’ve heard about for years (stereotypes like: Hispanic immigrants smuggled into the country under false pretenses and forced to work in some cantina or brothel, Asian girls smuggled to the U.S. under similar circumstances and forced into the back rooms of a spa or nail salon, and runaways from broken homes picked up off the streets by a pimp and trapped into a life of prostitution).
"We lived it"
Human Trafficking impacted my family in May of 2016. We aggressively fought back, hired professional help, and (by the grace of God) found and recovered our daughter. Most people who find themselves in the same situation are not so fortunate.
What We Have Learned
Human trafficking has grown explosively in recent years particularly in Texas. In the U.S. 82% of HT is sex trafficking involves forcing young girls (or boys) into commercial sex acts. There are a few key reasons for the recent growth.
There are 5 main reasons why it is growing!
Demand is Increasing
In the past people paying for the girls had to cruise unsafe street corners, enter sleazy clubs, or rent dirty hotel rooms. The new trend is for pimps to deliver victims to the Johns. The delivery can be to a hotel room, to a an apartment set up for that purpose, or right to your front door like a pizza. The offending buyer never has to show their face or even leave their home. They simply have to give a credit card number. Today 76% of the transactions for commercial sex acts occur online. The traditional methods of trafficking are just as prevalent as they ever were. The new and more sophisticated approach is harder to stop and is poised to continue fueling the explosive growth.
Traffickers have more access
Traffickers have more access to our teens, and they are getting better at their grooming methods. Almost every teenager is continually connected to social media. The traffickers constantly troll those sites / applications to identify susceptible teens. They have a network of contacts patiently coercing (brainwashing) their targets. Many victims are snatched away into a dark existence right after their 18th birthday while they are still completely naïve about the world, but legally they are adults.
Yesterday's Drug...Today's Sex..
Yesterday’s drug dealers are today’s sex traffickers. Why? The sex traffickers (pimps) today make as much if not more money than drug traffickers. Drugs are a consumable product that can be sold one time. Sex trafficking victims can be sold over 25 times per day. Everyday. Day-after-day-after-day.
Authorities need more
Police and prosecutors are not able to effectively pursuing pimps. The offense for which officers are most likely to arrest a pimp is for conducting the transaction. Remember the statistic? Seventy six percent (76%) of the transactions occur online. What does an officer do when he catches a known pimp riding around with a teenage victim? Nothing! There is nothing the officer can do. For a pimp having the “product” you sell in your possession is perfectly legal. Compare that scenario to a drug dealer. If a dealer gets caught with kilo of cocaine they’re going to jail, and there is a high probability they will be convicted and harshly punished.
Human Traffickers receive judicial leniency. The police don't focus on pimps in the first place, but even when pimps get caught, prosecuted, and convicted they receive punishment much less severe than drug dealers.
What YOU can do to join the FIGHT!
Follow and repost all social media posts from the following Facebook and Twitter sites.
Use the hashtag #FightForUs
The Proof...A CBS News Study
CBS News and Tegna Research completed a study on 2018 concluding that two thirds of traffickers convicted of compelling or promoting prostitution went unpunished. Their only sentence was Deferred Adjudication. It didn't matter whether their crime was a second or third conviction or whether they were convicted of trafficking minors. I mean, the girls are prostitutes, right? Why clog our jails with pimps participating in a "victimless crime"? Unfortunately, many of our elected district attorneys and judges don't see trafficking as a serious crime because they don't take the time to distinguish between prostitutes and trafficking victims.
Let’s be clear what “Deferred Adjudication” means. It means they plead GUILTY to the charge of Promoting or Compelling Prostitution (in many cases the victim is a minor). However, as long as pimp completes the conditions of his deferred adjudication (which usually includes attending a counseling session, and not getting arrested for promoting prostitution again for the next 6 months), the charges will be dropped and will not be added to his criminal record. In layman’s terms the Texas judicial system says, “Keep your nose clean for 6 months and we’ll forget this ever happened.” It is not difficult to see why HT is becoming the crime of choice for the criminally minded. What set of circumstances could possibly lead a prosecutor and a prosecutor or judge to believe that justice has been served when they drop the charges against a pimp, with a long criminal record, who admitted he was guilty of prostituting a minor?