Human Trafficking Bill Passes Assembly Committee

As a legislator, what do you do after you spearhead the nation’s most comprehensive anti-bullying legislation into law? If you’re Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, you don’t rest on your laurels. Instead, you tackle another human rights challenge.

Today, the Assembly Judiciary Committee took testimony on a bipartisan bill that is being shepherded through the legislature by Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle – a bill to combat a scourge that is often under the radar but ruins countless lives. The bill was heard (and passed) through the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

Human trafficking is an insidious problem that is pervasive across the country. It enslaves children into the dark world of prostitution and forced labor. History shows that high profile events like the Super Bowl, which comes to New Jersey in 2014, attract these human traffickers and their clients.

While there are already laws on the books and there have been arrests made, testimony at today’s hearing revealed that there have been no convictions for human trafficking in New Jersey in the past six years. Vainieri Huttle’s bill adds fines and additional regulations.

While the two Republicans on the panel expressed support for the concept, they also voiced concerns about the constitutionality of some of the provisions and contended that the requirement to train law enforcement officials was an unfunded mandate. Both (Michael Patrick Carroll and Holly Schepisi) abstained from supporting the bill as written. All the Democrats on the panel voted in favor.

In an interview with Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle after the hearing (below), she addressed the concerns that were brought up and stressed that this bill has bipartisan support. She said she will proactively work with her colleagues in the Assembly and in the Senate, where the bill is yet to be introduced, to amend the language to meet the concerns of all parties. No doubt she will work tirelessly to help abate this human rights problem.

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