Governor signs Proos’ human trafficking survivor support bills

LANSING—Sen. John Proos’ legislation to help support survivors of human trafficking was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday.

“America is the land of liberty, yet human trafficking is real and an underground crime hurting the lives of woman and children across the country,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I am proud to be a part of a bipartisan effort to protect our children, support survivors of human trafficking and put an end to this modern-day slavery. With these 21 new laws Michigan now has some of the strongest and most comprehensive human trafficking policies in the nation.”

Proos’ measures, now Public Acts 339 and 341 of 2014, will ensure that trafficking survivors can receive medical and psychological care and allow them to sue their captors for damages and expenses resulting from being trafficked.

PA 339 creates the Human Trafficking Victims Compensation Act, making victims eligible for compensation from those who trafficked them. PA 341 clarifies access for trafficking survivors to medical assistance or other insurance coverage for psychological and medical treatments needed as a result of their ordeal.

Cathy Knauf, founder of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, testified last year in support of Proos’ bills.

“Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the nation and currently ranks third, only surpassed by drugs and guns,” Knauf said. “This united effort of lawmakers and state and regional task forces is raising public awareness about this dire issue and addressing the need for the changes in recognition and laws.”

Public Acts 324-344 of 2014 include measures to eliminate the statute of limitations for any offense related to human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children, add “Johns” who solicit minor prostitutes to the sex offender registry, create a “safe harbor” for minor victims of trafficking and establish a permanent Human Trafficking Commission.

“This package of legislation is a statement about our dedication in Michigan to protecting women and children and assisting survivors,” Proos said. “As a father, I offer my support and prayers to all trafficking survivors and their families, especially those who have not yet been found or are too afraid to come forward. This effort is about supporting them and working toward a time when there are no more victims.”

Information about human trafficking, including how to identify and report it, is available on the attorney general’s website at: www.michigan.gov/humantrafficking.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Proos will be available later on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.