Human Trafficking bills head to governor's desk

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Several bills related to human trafficking in Washington state are heading to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is likely to sign them.

Senate Bill 6339 would make it a crime to coerce someone to perform labor or services by withholding or threatening to withhold or destroy someone's immigration status papers. It was delivered to Inslee on Monday after passing the Senate and House last week.

Under the measure, someone may commit the crime of coercion of involuntary servitude regardless of whether any compensation or benefits are given to the person who is coerced. The charge would be classified as a low-level felony.

House Bill 1791 would add the charge of trafficking in the first degree under the umbrella of sex offenses. The measure passed the House unanimously Monday, after representatives concurred on amendments made by the Senate.

Trafficking in the first degree would be a sex offense, under the bill, if force, fraud or coercion is used to cause someone to engage in a sexually explicit act or a commercial sex act. It also would apply if a person under 18 is made to engage in a sexually explicit or commercial sex act. The felony charge could be used in trafficking prostitution cases.

The measure also would require traffickers convicted of this offense to register as sex offenders.

House Bill 1292 also passed unanimously Monday after the House agreed on amendments made by the Senate. It would allow victims of trafficking to have prostitution convictions cleared from their records.

The measure would allow a victim of trafficking, promoting prostitution in the first degree or commercial sex abuse of a minor to vacate the record of a related prostitution conviction regardless of pending prostitution charges, subsequent prostitution convictions or if other prostitution conviction records have been vacated.

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