MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A number of bipartisan bills and resolutions have passed in the Alabama House of Representatives and are now on their way to the Senate for its consideration.
The bills would provide additional training to help recognize human trafficking and increase penalties for offenders.
One bill would require all new commercial driver licensees get training to identify human trafficking. Another bill changes existing law. Instead of publishing photos of those charged with prostitution, photos of those soliciting prostitution would be published. A third bill would increase fees for non-compliance in areas refusing to post Human Trafficking Hotline and awareness posters.
Julia Meyers with the Birmingham Junior League believes the bills would fight the problem on two fronts.
"The bills that we are speaking about today help our communities build awareness, not just by educating people that interact with victims, but also by helping victims realize that there is a way out,” she said.
Pleasant Grove Democratic Representative Merika Coleman told WSFA 12 News that building awareness of the severity of the issue in Alabama is critical.
“There are some people who truly believe that this don’t happen in the state of Alabama," she said. "There are some people, when we talk about human trafficking, they think that it’s people bringing folks into this country, but oftentimes our little babies are being taken off the street.”
The resolutions that were passed in the House encourage ALEA to continue developing curriculum to provide training in human trafficking for every officer and creates the Alabama Healthcare Human Trafficking Training Program Commission. The Commission would develop training for health care employees to identify and provide trauma-centered care for human trafficking victims. The bills now head to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. If passed in Committee they would then be voted on by the full Senate.