Legislation would increase human trafficking penalties

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - A state lawmaker is looking to crack down on the problem of human trafficking in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) introduced House Bill 2029 to increase penalties on those convicted of trafficking someone into sex slavery and individuals who patronize a victim of trafficking.

There were 152 potential cases of human trafficking reported in Pennsylvania in 2016, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

House Bill 2029 would increase the penalty for tracking someone into sex slavery from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.

Patrons of a victim would also face a first-degree felony and an increased fine of between $1,000 and $30,000. If the victim is a minor, the maximum fine would be $100,000. The individual would also have to register as a sex offender.

The bill also targets prostitution. Repeat offenders would face an increased fine and have to register as a sex offender.

"Really, the target is going after those individuals who utilize traffickers, the individuals who will purchase goods and services from prostitutes," Grove said. "If you have to file as a sex offender because of that, hopefully, it's a deterrent for you not to go forward and do that."

House Bill 2029 is awaiting action in the House Education Committee.

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