#minorsextrafficking | Virginia governor ceremoniously signs bills to combat human trafficking | Virginia

(The Center Square) – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ceremoniously signed seven bills that are meant to combat human trafficking in the commonwealth, some of which specifically focus on traffickers of children.

After signing the bills, members of the newly formed Commission on Human Trafficking Prevention and Survivor Support were sworn in.

“Today’s first Human Trafficking Commission meeting and the signing of these bills are important milestones in the commonwealth’s mission to combat human trafficking in Virginia,” Youngkin said in a statement. “We gathered together today as a demonstration of the continued collaboration and commitment from this administration, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the General Assembly, localities and Virginians to eradicate human trafficking in Virginia. We know that what we will do here will have a ripple effect on trafficking across the nation.”

Each of the bills received unanimous support from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

House Bill 1334, which specifically deals with child trafficking victims, will allow a complaint of child abuse or neglect related to child trafficking to be deemed valid, regardless of who the alleged abuser is or whether the alleged abuser has been identified. It allows a complaint to be deemed valid by a local department of social services and requires that a department without jurisdiction forward complaints to the appropriate local department that has jurisdiction.

House Bill 1023 will allow family life education curriculums in public high schools to provide age-appropriate education on human trafficking.

“Human trafficking has been an issue that has plagued our communities all across Virginia and we must do everything we can to stem its impact, especially on our children,” Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Woodbridge, said in a statement. “I am thankful to have had the support of the governor in signing HB1023, which would allow instruction on human trafficking on children in high schools so that we can start as early and as effectively as possible to tackle this important issue.”

Another bill, House Bill 258, instructs the Department of Criminal Justice Services to provide cost-free training to hotel employees on recognizing and reporting suspected human trafficking. The bill also requires hotel employees to take the training course or an equivalent alternative.

Senate Bill 476 and House Bill 283 directs the department to provide training for law-enforcement personnel on recognizing, preventing and reporting suspected human trafficking.

“Today is a great step in the right direction in our collective fight to combat human trafficking in our commonwealth,” Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, said in a statement. “I was proud to carry House Bill 283, which greatly enhances the law enforcement response and understanding to identify the indicators of human trafficking. I am grateful to Governor Youngkin and General Miyares for making this a top priority and linking arm in arm to offer resources, meaningful legislation and support for victims.”

House Bill 526 ensures that non-Virginians who are in the commonwealth as the result of human trafficking can receive in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 711 ensures that petitioner for a writ of vacatur for victims of sex trafficking do not have to pay court fees if they are unable.

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