Governor Mike Beebe signed HB1203 into law on Tuesday, February 19. Now Act 133 is known as the Human Trafficking Act of 2013. Rep. David Meeks (District 70) and Rep. Greg Leding (District 86) were the lead sponsors of the bill. It passed with unanimous support of the 89th General Assembly. You can read the bill in its entirety here.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one-hundred thousand children are exploited through prostitution every year in the United States. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) received 246 calls from Arkansas since 2008.
In committee testimony, Bart Dickinson from the Arkansas Attorney General’s testified in favor of the bill. It would allow five key things to happen that he feels are the most important issues. It would increase penalty for trafficking offenders that use minors in their ring. It would increase the penalty for patronizing trafficking victims. Then it would provide an affirmative defense for case dealing with human trafficking. It would amend the trafficking laws so that law enforcement and prosecutors can charge those involved in trafficking. Finally it would allow the Attorney General’s office to develop a task force to address human trafficking issues.