H.R. 159, Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act of 2015

H.R. 159

Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act of 2015

Committee
Judiciary

Date
January 27, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 159, the Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act of 2015, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 159 was introduced on January 6, 2015 by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 159 is substantively identical to H.R. 3610, the Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act, which passed on May 20, 2014 by voice vote.[1]

H.R. 159 encourages states to pass safe harbor laws by providing them additional preference in their applications for Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) grants.  According to this legislation, a safe harbor law is a law that: 1) treats a minor (an individual under 18 years of age) who has engaged in, or has attempted to engage in a commercial sex act as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons; 2) discourages the charging or prosecution of a minor for a prostitution or sex trafficking offense; and  3) encourages the diversion of an individual to appropriate service providers, including child welfare services, victim treatment programs, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, or other social services.  Moreover, this legislation requires additional reporting to Congress on restitution orders and offender information in sex trafficking cases.

H.R. 159 also codifies a national human trafficking hotline and allows the Secretary of HHS to make grants for a national communication system to assist victims of severe forms of trafficking.  Finally, this legislation clarifies Jobs Corps program eligibility language to ensure that young victims of commercial sex trafficking are eligible to enroll in the program, and clarifies the authority of the U.S. Marshals Service to assist, when requested by law enforcement agencies, in locating and recovering missing children.

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[1] Congressional Record – January 20, 2014, at H4515.

Background

“Starting with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, Congress has legislated that juveniles who are involved in commercial sexual crimes are to be considered the victims of these crimes, rather than criminals themselves.”[2]  Despite growing recognition of the seriousness of minor sex trafficking, a majority of states still have statutes that criminalize minor prostitution.[3]  This legislation attempts to address this problem by providing states that pass safe harbor statutes for victims of minor sex trafficking preference in their application for COPS grants.

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[2] Id. at 3.
[3] Id. at 3.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate for this legislation is currently unavailable.  However, CBO estimated that implementing similar legislation that passed in the 113th Congress would have no significant budgetary effect and would not affect direct spending or revenues.[4]

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[4] http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45347

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.