Legislature(2005 - 2006)
04/01/2005 02:09 PM JUD
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|Presentation on Sex Trafficking by Leslie R. Wolfe, Ph.d., President, Center for Women Policy Studies|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 101 - SEX TRAFFICKING AND TOURISM 3:56:20 PM CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 101, "An Act relating to sex trafficking and tourism." REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 101, Version 24-LS0412\G, Luckhaupt, 3/23/05, as the work draft. There being no objection, Version G was before the committee. MARK GNADT, Staff to Representative Eric Croft, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, noted on behalf of Representative Croft that at the bill's last hearing, it became obvious that HB 101 has two distinct parts, one of which is somewhat duplicated in other legislation and has therefore been removed from Version G. Version G now contains only the other part of the original bill and is modeled on Hawaii statute. He provided members with both a copy of that statute and an article mentioning a case wherein a man who was engaged in offering tours for the purpose of having sex in Thailand turned in his travel agency license. The Hawaii legislature enacted its statute after the situation about the aforementioned man was brought to its attention. He added, "So there is some precedent for the need of it in Hawaii; there also [is], with the federal prosecution in 2001, ... some idea that there might be some need for it here as well." MR. GNADT offered that Version G now targets the demand for sex trafficking, which is present in other countries as well as in the United States. Version G will help Alaska do its part in fighting this international problem: if a company promotes prostitution - or a commercial sex act - or promotes, advertises, or facilitates travel for either of those purposes, the company can be prosecuted. Additionally, he remarked, the inclusion in Version G of a definition for "commercial sex act" is intended to encompass more than those acts that are normally thought of as prostitution but which are equally horrible. CHAIR McGUIRE noted that Chip Wagoner was in the audience, and offered her belief that he was "giving his support to HB 101." CHAIR McGUIRE after ascertaining that no one else wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 101. 3:59:42 PM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked why Version G proposes to make promoting sex tourism a class A felony; in comparison, the Hawaii statute makes that activity a class B felony. MR. GNADT said that the original bill made the crime a class A felony and so Version G merely maintains that level of penalty. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he has a problem with making the crime a class A felony. In response to a question, he indicated that he would be willing to offer an amendment that would make the crime a class C felony. REPRESENTATIVE GARA referred to the language on page 2, lines 4- 5, which says that a person commits the crime of promoting sex tourism if he/she provides or advertises access to or facilitates the availability of commercial sexual acts. He pondered whether it should only be a crime if one intentionally facilitates the availability of commercial sexual acts, not when one unknowingly does it. MR. GNADT said that is a good point, and surmised that the sponsor would be amenable to language that would "tighten" that provision. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG made a motion to adopt Amendment 1, to page 2, line 8, to replace "class A felony" with "class C felony". REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM objected for the purpose of discussion. She said she isn't opposed to having the crime be a class A felony. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG indicated that although he feels it would be appropriate to make the crime outlined in the bill a felony, he questions whether it should be a class A felony, because the penalties are so severe. [Following was some discussion regarding what the penalties currently are for different classes of felonies.] REPRESENTATIVE GARA relayed that Representative Kerttula has recommended making the crime a class A felony if the victim is under the age of 18, and a class C felony if the victim is [18 years of age or older]. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he would accept that as a friendly amendment to Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM said she could accept such a change. 4:04:37 PM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, upon further reflection, however, pointed out that one wouldn't necessarily be able to tell how old an intended victim is at the time a person is being prosecuted for the crime of promoting sex tourism. He asked whether it will be a separate count for each person [in the tour] or for each tour. In other words, would a tour for which ten people have signed up result in ten crimes or one crime? He also asked whether the sentences would be consecutive or concurrent. REPRESENTATIVE GARA offered his belief that it would be a separate crime for each victim. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG again pointed out, however, that the crime involves the organization of a tour and so there may not actually be any victims if a tour operator is charged with the crime before the tour departs. REPRESENTATIVE GARA surmised, then, that it would be a separate crime for each client. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted that if that is the case, then charging a person with a class A felony for each client booking the tour could result in that person being in prison [for a very long time] particularly if he/she is also subject to consecutive sentencing. CHAIR McGUIRE offered her understanding of what portions of the new sentencing structure entail. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, in response to a question, said that he hopes that Representative Dahlstrom would remove her [suggested amendment and] objection to Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE GARA said Representative Gruenberg makes an interesting point, particularly given the state's new sentencing scheme. 4:08:10 PM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG concurred. CHAIR McGUIRE read portions of the new sentencing scheme. 4:09:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG again asked whether it would be a separate crime for each client booking the tour or whether the tour itself constitutes a crime. He indicated a preference for having it be the latter but then applying an aggravating sentencing factor for each client that books the tour. REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM removed her objection to Amendment 1. CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there were any further objections to Amendment 1. There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted. MR. GNADT, in response to Representative Gruenberg's most recent question and comment, indicated that the acts of selling and facilitating could warrant sentencing aggravators for each client, but that the act of advertising would just be considered one crime. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether the latter would be true if one advertises in more than one medium for each tour. MR. GNADT indicated that the intent was to consider the act of advertising a tour as one crime. CHAIR McGUIRE suggested to Representative Gruenberg that he discuss that issue further with the sponsor before the bill is heard on the House floor. 4:13:03 PM REPRESENTATIVE GARA made a motion to adopt Amendment 2, to page 2, line 4, to add "intentionally" before the word "facilitates". There being no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report the proposed CS for HB 101, Version 24-LS0412\G, Luckhaupt, 3/23/05, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying [zero] fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 101(JUD) was reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.