Fighting human trafficking – By Rep. Dennis Keene
When asked what is the fastest-growing illegal activity in Kentucky you might reply methamphetamine addiction, prescription drug abuse or even theft due to our precarious economy.
But you would be wrong.
The surprising answer is human trafficking. Those ugly words describe unimaginable acts that include sexual exploitation, forced labor and false imprisonment. And what is more disturbing is that these acts are being perpetrated upon children as well as adults throughout our commonwealth.
There have been 67 documented cases of human trafficking and 12 indictments in Kentucky since 2007, but few convictions. The General Assembly passed a law in 2007 that made human trafficking a crime, but more needs to be done to halt the scourge of terrible activity.
That is why I am proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 350, also called the Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act, which would strengthen current laws to help prosecutors convict human traffickers.
HB 350 would make it a crime to force adults or children into prostitution; apply Kentucky’s forfeiture laws to those convicted of human trafficking; and create a fund for social service agencies that serve human trafficking victims.
The legislation recently passed out of the House with a resounding 90-0 unanimous vote and I am hopeful that the Kentucky Senate will treat House Bill 350 with the same urgency and gravity my colleagues and I employed.
Human trafficking is a real and terrible problem in Kentucky that requires strong action on all levels. The Kentucky General Assembly should lead the way in this important endeavor.
Representative Dennis Keene represents the 67th House District in Campbell County that includes the cities of Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Wilder, Southgate, Woodlawn and Highland Heights. He is chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, vice chairman of Economic Development and a member of the Banking & Insurance and is the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation. Keene is a small business owner and an economic development advisor for EGC. For more information, visit: www.DennisKeene.com.