PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Jan Brewer signed sweeping legislation Tuesday that aims to curb human trafficking and was championed by the wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Brewer, who made the issue a priority during her State of the State address, signed the bill into law during a news conference.
House Bill 2454 toughens penalties for trafficking adults for prostitution, and targets businesses such as massage parlors and escort services that advertise online. It requires advertisers to post their license numbers, and they must also have written permission of any women they depict and have evidence they are not minors.
"The goal of this legislation is to further discourage criminals from inflicting this horror on people of Arizona, particularly our children," Brewer said. But we must and we will remain active, vigilant and ready to act in order to end this evil in Arizona."
Cindy McCain, who sat on a governor's task force that came up with the outlines for the bill, said the legislation would put Arizona at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking by imposing harsh penalties for pimps.
"What this task force has done and what the governor has done in putting this House bill together is literally on the cutting edge of what's going on with this issue and has been followed around the world," McCain said.
McCain has been championing human-trafficking legislation not only in Arizona but in other states, especially ones that host major events such as the Super Bowl, which she says attract traveling pimps and prostitutes. The proposed Arizona law will help close off the state to those traffickers, she said.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, increases the minimum penalties for a child-prostitution conviction from 10 years to 24 years in prison. It also makes pimping a child or adult a racketeering offense that will allow asset seizures.
The bill received unanimous support in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature.