Governor Sean Parnell today urged lawmakers to pass House Bill 359, his legislation strengthening penalties for human trafficking, on the first day of the special session.
"Time is absolutely of the essence," Governor Parnell said. "Trafficking is not a crime that only affects people in rural Alaska. Sobering statistics show that even in our largest city, shelters see victims of sex trafficking every single day. Equally disturbing, runaways can become trafficking victims within 48 hours. Sex trafficking and human trafficking is modern day slavery. I urge lawmakers to pass House Bill 359 tomorrow to give prosecutors more tools to fight this horrific crime."
When children are victimized, they should not be labeled with the actions of the offender who solicits sex, organizes its sale, and exploits Alaska children and others.
HB 359 changes the terminology for the crime by describing the offender's conduct as sex trafficking rather than promoting prostitution. It also adds human trafficking and sex trafficking in the first degree to crimes defined as serious felony offenses for the purposes of Alaska's conspiracy laws.
Lawmakers will convene tomorrow for a special session of the 27th Alaska Legislature to address human trafficking legislation, oil tax reform, and legislation to spur progress on an instate gasline.