Trafficking bills pass through state house

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills on Wednesday targeting human trafficking. 

Of a total seven bills scheduled for the day, five were passed by the House.

These bills could “(update) sentencing guidelines, (require) the Department of Human Services to report suspected cases of human trafficking and (update) the Crime Victim’s Rights,” according to a statement by Rep. Phil Cavanagh.

Cavanagh sponsored one of the passed bills, which would amend the previous law on victim’s rights to align with recently amended human trafficking laws. In particular, this bill would give restitution to victims who have experienced loss of income, child care expenses and attorney fees.

Jane White, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, said these bills are more focused on defining rather than reforming.

“We have two laws on the books (regarding human trafficking), but they aren’t what we would like them to be. They are unclear. These five bills help make things very clear,” White said.

White said she and the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force want to see more “victim-oriented reform,” specifically to minorities. They are currently supporting legislation to change the definition of minors to all under 18.

White said the change would prevent victims from being accused of prostitution.

As of Thursday, the bills were referred to the committee on families, seniors, and human services for Senate consideration.

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