LSU Journalism coverage of the State Legislature
Two bills targeting sexual exploitation passed through the Louisiana Legislature Friday. One would set policies for employers to detect victims of human trafficking, and the other would increase penalties for crimes involving prostitution.
Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, wrote the bill that would relate to the trafficking victims, including employees of sexually oriented businesses like stores selling sexual materials and businesses with live sexual performances.
The businesses would have to verify age and employment status of current and prospective employees and keep those records for three years. They also would need to have potential employees fill out questionnaires aimed at detecting victims of human trafficking.
If a company suspects a potential employee or contractor is a human trafficking victim, it then has 24 hours to contact law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline.
Employers failing to follow these policies would face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per offense, depending on the number of prior offenses.
Stokes said the bill should help curb sex trafficking in the state.
According to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, 681 cases of human trafficking were reported in the state in 2017.
Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, proposed the bill to increase fines for both those soliciting prostitutes and those paying for sex, saying it also was created to “lessen the demand” for sex trafficking.
The fines in her bill are calculated based on the number of offenses and whether or not the victim is underage.
A quarter of the fines collected would go to the sheriff or law enforcement agency who made the arrest and would be used for training officers to recognize and prevent human trafficking.
Another 25 percent would go to the district attorney’s office to pay for services to help victims of prostitution and create a program the educates offenders of the negative effects of prostitution. The rest would help cover court administration costs.
Both bills now head to the governor’s desk.
Originally published May 18.