With the support of Representative Rick Miller (Fort Bend) the Texas House of Representatives has passed a series of bills to help victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. On April 10, 2019, HCR 35 was voted out of Public Health committee unanimously. The state of Texas has the 2nd most reported human trafficking cases in the nation, with around 300,000 cases reported this past year. Despite those numbers, trafficking and the underlying offenses are underreported. If passed by the House, HCR 35 will allow the state of Texas to escalate the attention towards this crisis and recognize human trafficking as a public health concern.
On March 25, 2019, courageous souls from the Houston area and other parts of the state came to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to testify on a very important bill authored by Rep. Miller - HB 2731 - relating to enhanced penalties for certain human trafficking offenses (aggravated promotion, promotion, and coercion).
"In Texas today, the penalties for promoting prostitution, as a whole, are too light to provide adequate protections for human trafficking victims," said Rep. Miller. "HB 2731 seeks to strongly discourage those in the illicit sex trade from taking advantage of the innocent and susceptible."
HB 2731 brings swift and fierce justice to those who prey on the exploitable by providing harsher punishments and expanding the definition of coercion to include "involuntary consumption of intoxicants.."
In addition to HB 2731, Representative Miller has authored HB 2336 which would raise the age requirement for employment at a sexually oriented business from 18 years of age to 21. This would also raise the age limit from 18 to 21 of anyone wanting to be on the premises of sexually oriented businesses in any capacity (patron, employee, or contractor). This legislation would make it harder for sex traffickers to pass off underage minors as being of age and forcing them to work in sexually oriented businesses.
"We must do everything we can to stop these horrendous crimes and help survivors seek justice," said Rep. Miller.