Legislature(2005 - 2006)

04/22/2005 02:48 PM FIN


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HOUSE BILL NO. 101                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act relating to sex trafficking and tourism.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CROFT,   SPONSOR,  pointed  out  that  in  his                                                                  
address to  the United Nations  General Assembly in  September                                                                  
2003, President  George W. Bush called the sex  trafficking of                                                                  
people "a special  kind of evil in the abuse and  exploitation                                                                  
of the  most innocent  and vulnerable."   HB 101 attacks  that                                                                  
problem at two fundamental economic stages.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
   ·    It targets those who traffic people for the purposes                                                                    
        of forcing them into commercial sex acts; and                                                                           
   ·    It targets the industries that create the demand for                                                                    
        the horrible acts by offering "sex tours" and other                                                                     
        promises of sex to Alaskan clients.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Because  much of  the  illegal sex  trafficking  and sex  tour                                                                  
activity happens  overseas, the most direct way  for Alaska to                                                                  
help  eradicate the  black  market industry  is  to limit  the                                                                  
demand  for such  despicable  acts.   HB 101  addresses  those                                                                  
that  promote, organize  or  otherwise market  commercial  sex                                                                  
tours   and  travel   services   by  making   the   activities                                                                  
punishable to the same degree as sex trafficking itself.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Croft  continued,   recent  studies   by  the                                                                  
University  of Pennsylvania and  the U.S. Department  of State                                                                  
on  the prevalence  of  sex  trafficking  and sex  tours  both                                                                  
nationally  and  globally,  shows   an  astounding  number  of                                                                  
children each year  fall victim to this heinous  industry.  It                                                                  
is  important   to  do  our  part   to  end  that   abuse  and                                                                  
exploitation of our world's most vulnerable children.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB 101  would make Alaska  part of the  solution and  not part                                                                  
of the problem.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:37:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Holm  asked   if  this   type  activity   was                                                                  
happening in the United States.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft referenced  a study from the  University                                                                  
of Pennsylvania  on commercial  and sexual  exploitation.   It                                                                  
is a growing problem  happening around the world.   He pointed                                                                  
out that  the numbers of occurrences  indicates that  there is                                                                  
advertising.   He  wanted  to   make  sure  that   advertising                                                                  
agencies   know   they  cannot   respond   to   requests   for                                                                  
information regarding sex trafficking.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:40:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
In   response    to   comments   by   Representative    Kelly,                                                                  
Representative   Croft   agreed   that  advertising   is   not                                                                  
currently  happening in  Alaska, but that  Alaskans do  travel                                                                  
for such purposes.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly remembered  sexual practices during  the                                                                  
height  of the  pipeline construction  and  questioned if  the                                                                  
legislation  could  address  issues  now  with  the  gas  line                                                                  
coming forth.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:42:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  stated the  legislation  addresses  the                                                                  
advertisement of prostitution.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker asked how the legislation  would affect                                                                  
out-of-state  Internet  advertising,  and  if the  bill  would                                                                  
hold harmless  the infrastructure  providers.   Representative                                                                  
Croft explained  that the House  Judiciary Committee  inserted                                                                  
the phrase "for the purpose of".                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:45:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  noted  that the  infrastructure  of  he                                                                  
Internet is not liable for pornography sites.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
In   response   to   a   question   by   Vice-Chair   Stoltze,                                                                  
Representative  Croft  explained  that  it  would  prohibit  a                                                                  
flyer  advertising activities  where  prostitution was  legal.                                                                  
Since  it  is illegal  in  Alaska,  it should  be  illegal  to                                                                  
advertise in Alaska.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:48:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker  asked  if there  could  be  interstate                                                                  
commerce  concerns.   Representative Croft  concluded that  it                                                                  
would be  criminal conduct  in Alaska.   He acknowledged  that                                                                  
there  could be  legal  challenges,  but emphasized  that  the                                                                  
State's  actions  should  not  be held  to  the  lowest  moral                                                                  
calendar.   He  maintained  that  it is  not clearly  or  even                                                                  
likely to be unconstitutional  and felt that a  constitutional                                                                  
case would be won by the State.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:50:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Croft  stressed  that  the  use   of  younger                                                                  
persons are  the worst cases.   He noted  that there  has been                                                                  
discussion   on  penalty   levels  and   felt  it  should   be                                                                  
classified as a Class C felony.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair   Stoltze  asked  if   there  could  be   a  higher                                                                  
threshold for those acts directed toward children.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:53:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm spoke in support of the legislation.   He                                                                  
noted  that Americans  are traveling  to  other countries  for                                                                  
these  purposes,   but  there   is  no  indication   that  the                                                                  
practices  are   occurring  stateside.    He   questioned  how                                                                  
Alaskan law could affect situations here.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft explained that  the viewer would  not be                                                                  
selling  the  service.   The  individual  would   have  to  be                                                                  
providing a service.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft observed  that  prostitution does  occur                                                                  
in America, noting concerns with child pornography.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:58:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
In   response   to   a   question   by   Vice-Chair   Stoltze,                                                                  
Representative  Croft referred to  brothel tours and  how they                                                                  
would   be   covered   through   the   proposed   legislation.                                                                  
Traveling for commercial sex acts would be included.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Stoltze  MOVED to  REPORT CSHB  101  (JUD) out  of                                                                  
Committee  with   individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                  
accompanying fiscal  notes.  There being NO OBJECTION,  it was                                                                  
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CS HB  101 (JUD)  was  reported out  of Committee  with a  "do                                                                  
pass" recommendation  and with zero note #1 by  the Department                                                                  
of  Administration,   zero  note  #2  by  the   Department  of                                                                  
Corrections,  zero note #3  by the Alaska  Court System,  zero                                                                  
note  #4 by the  Department  of Law  and zero  note #5 by  the                                                                  
Department of Public Safety.                                                                                                    

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