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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 5, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Lawmakers say human traffickers must register as sex offenders

Washington would become the first state to require human traffickers to register as sex offenders, according to the prime sponsor of a bill that won unanimous approval Wednesday in the state Senate.

The bill, which earlier gained passage in the House, now goes to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 1791  designates the crime of human trafficking in the first degree as a sex offense if force, fraud or coercion is used.

Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, the sponsor, said the measure is part of a larger effort to fight trafficking in the state.

In 2003, Washington became the first state to pass a law criminalizing human trafficking.

On Tuesday, the state Senate also unanimously passed a bill — already approved in the House — that would give victims of trafficking a better chance of finding work or housing. House Bill 1292 would allow those victims to petition a judge to clear their records of prostitution-related convictions.

Many young women trying to rebuild their lives are hindered by prostitution convictions, which show up on criminal-background checks required for job and housing applications. As many as 500 youths, some as young as 11, are working as prostitutes in King County, according to the city of Seattle’s Human Services Department.

Another bill did not make it through before a committee-vote deadline. House Bill 2644 would have made it a crime to force someone into work by withholding or threatening to withhold or destroy immigration documents,or by threatening to tell law enforcement that the person is in the United States illegally.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: human trafficking, prostitution, sex offender

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