Senators take the lead on legislation to fight human trafficking

LANSING — Sens. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Paul Wojno (D-Warren) and Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) have introduced a bill package to fight human trafficking by providing training for public employees in certain occupations and for owners, operators and employees of hotels. 

Senate Bill 772, sponsored by Sen. Santana, would require the Human Trafficking Commission to set minimum training standards for public employees who are required to recognize and report human trafficking.  

“We have a panel of experts on the Human Trafficking Commission well-versed in fighting these serious issues, so their guidance on training methods and standards will be a benefit for everyone,” Sen. Santana said. “Human traffickers are always looking to get one step ahead of law enforcement, so it’s our job to make sure our public employees are trained and prepared to deal with these situations.”

Senate Bills 775 and 776, sponsored by Sen. Wojno and Sen. Moss, create the Hospitality Education Against Trafficking Act to require owners, operators and employees of hotels to be trained in identifying potential human trafficking victims, as well as common indicators and activities associated with human trafficking.  

“Michigan must be on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking, and we can accomplish this if we train hospitality workers to look for signs of these crimes,” Sen. Wojno said. “Traffickers often take advantage of the privacy and anonymity that a hotel environment offers, so if we can make sure that hotel staff and management know what to look for, and know how to report suspicious behavior, we can save victims.”

According to 2019 statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Michigan had 172 reported cases of human trafficking, ranking seventh in the nation. This is 57 fewer than neighboring Ohio, but 75 more than Indiana and 122 more than Wisconsin. The most common type of human trafficking in the U.S. is sex trafficking. 

“Sadly, human trafficking can and does occur in the shadows of every corner of our state, robbing victims of their basic human rights,” said Sen. Moss, a sponsor of Senate Bill 775. “These bills would go a long way to target the common source of human trafficking and protect people who are forced to commit unspeakable acts against their will.”

Two other bills in the package, Senate Bills 773 and 774, would respectively require additional training to school districts and those with commercial driver’s licenses, so that these individuals could also help to identify, prevent and report cases of human trafficking. 

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