HARRISBURG – Legislation that takes aim at individuals patronizing victims of human trafficking was unanimously approved today during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).
Phillips-Hill’s legislation, Senate Bill 60, would increase penalties if an individual patronizes a victim of human trafficking. Offenders could face imprisonment of up to 40 years if the victim is a minor.
The bill, titled the “Buyer Beware Act,” builds upon recent reforms by the General Assembly to increase penalties and awareness of human trafficking crimes in Pennsylvania. Phillips-Hill said her goal is to stop the demand for human trafficking victims by increasing penalties on those who engage in sexual activity with those victims.
Senate Bill 60 would also increase the penalty for someone who recruits, solicits, advertises, transports, or profits off a human trafficking victim to a first degree felony (up from a second degree felony offense) and increasing fines associated with the crimes. Anyone found guilty of the above offenses would pay up to $30,000 in fines, or up to $100,000 if the victim is a minor.
“Despite efforts in the past to increase penalties on those who engage in human trafficking rings, the problem still persists throughout every corner of our commonwealth,” Phillips-Hill said. “This bill is aimed at halting the demand for victims of human trafficking. This bill sends a loud message that if you are trafficking a victim or knowingly soliciting services of a victim of human trafficking, you will face significant legal and financial consequences.”
The legislation moves to the full Senate for its consideration. Representative Seth Grove (R-York) also introduced the Buyer Beware Act in the House of Representatives.