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Gov. Gregoire signs anti-trafficking bill

OLYMPIA - Last week several bipartisan bills to combat human trafficking were signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Many advocates for human trafficking victims had worried the bills would fall prey to Gregoire's abrupt cancelation of bill-signing ceremonies and threats to instead veto bills if legislators failed to negotiate a supplemental state operating budget on her terms.

Legislators and advocates were told last week that the governor was pulling back on her veto threat and would be acting on the proposed legislation.

"I thank the governor for recognizing that some issues, such as preventing the sexual exploitation of children, should be above politics," said Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, sponsor of Senate Bill 6254.

"Human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry that often takes advantage of the most vulnerable members of our society - our children, and even those with mental or developmental disabilities, and fighting these horrific crimes should continue to be a nonpartisan effort," Delvin said in a press release issued last Friday.

Human trafficking includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor, sex, organ transplants or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt, bondage or slavery.

The 12 bills signed into law last week include:

- SB 6251: Regulating online advertising of commercial sexual abuse of a minor

- SB 6252: Addressing commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting prostitution in the first degree

- SB 6253: Concerning seizure and forfeiture of property in commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting prostitution in the first degree crimes

- SB 6254: Compelling a person with a mental disability to engage in prostitution is promoting prostitution in the first degree, even absent the use of force

- SB 6256: Adding commercial sexual abuse of a minor to the list of criminal street gang-related offenses

- SB 6257: Addressing sexually explicit performance

- SB 6258: Concerning unaccompanied persons

- SB 6103: Removing the practice of reflexology from the exemptions from licensure for massage or massage therapy. Granting authority to the secretary of health to conduct inspections of massage business establishments

- SB 6255: Vacating sentences for underage victims

- HB 1983: Increasing fee assessments for prostitution crimes

- HB 2692: Concerning the reduction of the commercial sale of sex

- HB 2177: Relating to protecting children from sexual exploitation

"After 10 years of legislative progress on this issue, there is still much work to do," said Delvin. "This fight takes dedication and new legislation year after year, but it's a fight we are determined to win."

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