Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
01/25/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY
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HB 101-SEX TOURISM HB 148-TRAFFICKING OF PERSONS 9:16:55 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked Representative Croft to introduce HB 101. REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT, bill sponsor, introduced the bill and began with a description of the problem currently facing Alaska. He cited part of a speech by President George W. Bush to the United Nations in September of 2003 regarding young people trapped in sex trafficking commerce. "Those people who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others and governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery." The Protect Act, signed into law in 2003, makes it a crime for any person to enter the United States or for any citizen to travel abroad for the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The Department of Justice is actively investigating sex tour operators and patrons who can face up to 30 years in prison under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. 9:20:27 AM The first and most important step was the federal law that President Bush referred to that makes it a crime to travel for purposes of having sex with a child. Representative Croft said states must also act. Alaska has a special exposure to sex tourism due to its vicinity of the Pacific Rim. Hawaii passed a law similar to HB 101 making it illegal to advertise sex tourism. The Hawaii Legislature found that the sex industry has expanded in the past decade and involves the exploitation of persons, particularly women and children. Under their new law they were able to prosecute and withdraw the license from a Honolulu travel agency that had placed explicit advertisement on the web for the ultimate Asian sex tour of Thailand. He recognized broad support from the religious community. 9:23:10 AM REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained the original bill had both the advertising of tourism element and the human trafficking element. After Representative Kerttula introduced HB 148 he dropped the trafficking element from HB 101. Late last year the Department of Law (DOL) submitted a proposed substitute. Both establish a class C felony for the conduct. He stated the reason he did not adopt the DOL suggestion was because it was offered so late in the previous session. He also wanted to make sure that the bill was not too narrow. 9:26:43 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether the DOL's "draft A" was a substitute for the entire language of the bill. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said yes. CHAIR SEEKINS asked Representative Croft whether he supported draft A or wanted to retain his original bill. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he would prefer to put it before the Senate Standing Judiciary Committee to adopt the preferred version. CHAIR SEEKINS noted Ms. Anne Carpeneti's flight was late arriving and he could not verify whether she would make it in to comment on behalf of the DOL. SENATOR HUGGINS asked Representative Croft to explain the magnitude of difficulties with the issue in Spenard. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said it was significant during the pipeline days and is better now, but the bill deals with a global problem. HB 101 deals with people who advertise the conduct that allows people to fly oversees for commercial sex. HB 148 would deal with people who traffic persons into the state. 9:31:05 AM SENATOR HUGGINS commented on the maturation of the sex industry in Thailand. SENATOR GUESS asked Representative Croft to explain the difference in dealing with Alaska companies who advertise in Alaska and companies from other states that advertise in Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said Alaska law could establish how Alaska businesses operate but it is difficult to try and regulate what is on the Internet. SENATOR GUESS asked whether a Nebraska business could advertise in Alaska and whether an Alaska business could advertise outside of the state. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT did not know. 9:35:42 AM SENATOR GUESS noted a business could get around the law by relocating. SENATOR FRENCH guessed it would be up to the process of the law. An Alaska judge could issue a warrant for the crime of selling or advertising in the state. If the person lives in Alaska and commits the crime somewhere else then it would be a different story. SENATOR HUGGINS asked Representative Croft whether the bill addresses floating vessels. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said the Legislature had clarified jurisdiction in territorial waters for crimes committed there. A brochure on a cruise ship inside of three miles would fall within Alaska jurisdiction. 9:39:03 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked for a current example of an act that would break the proposed law. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT did not have one. He said there are a significant amount of Alaska citizens who travel out of country to engage in the business. Identifying exactly who or how it is advertised is difficult because it is an underground deal. Looking at the supply side gives a person an idea of how many people support the industry. CHAIR SEEKINS noted that Mr. Chip Wagoner signed up to testify on both HB 101 and HB 148. He asked Mr. Wagoner to hold his testimony until HB 148 was introduced. CHAIR SEEKINS asked Representative Kerttula to introduce HB 148. 9:41:06 AM REPRESENTATIVE BETH KERTTULA, bill sponsor, introduced HB 148. She reiterated earlier comments from Representative Eric Croft saying that human trafficking is a horrendous crime and a modern form of slavery and also a global problem as well as an Alaska problem. President George W. Bush and the federal government have encouraged the states to enact legislation to address the crime. The bill was crafted with the Department of Law (DOL). It addresses the specific crime of bringing women and children into the state and forcing them into forced labor or sexual activity. 9:44:15 AM MR. CHIP WAGONER, Executive Director, Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops, testified on both HB 101 and HB 148. He said both bills are very short in length but contain a huge principal of Catholic social doctrine. The principal is that each and every person has human dignity deserving of recognition and reverence. Sadly this is not the case. Half of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. One billion people live in urban slums and 30 million people die yearly due to hunger. People in desperate states are vulnerable and subject to prey. The most recent report from the Vatican noted more than 800 million children around the world are victims of malnutrition, disease, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation. More than 50 million children are born every year who are not even registered, leaving them open to a lifetime of exploitation as their existence is unknown even by their own governments. Human trafficking involves more than a million children each year in what has become a $1.2 billion dollar business. Human trafficking has been noted as the second largest criminal activity in the world today and the fastest growing. 9:48:02 AM While human trafficking is a worldwide issue, it is a problem in this country as well. The United States Department of State estimates that 18-20,000 victims are trafficked across US borders each year. The Center for Women Policy Studies believes the number is closer to 100,000. The Alaska Catholic Conference supports both HB 101 and HB 148. More can be done though. For example California recently passed a comprehensive 28-page bill that enables a victim of human trafficking to bring a civil action for actual damages. Connecticut recently adopted a statute that created an interagency task force on the trafficking of persons. He said victims should be encouraged victims to come forward without fear of deportation. There is a vast difference between illegal immigration and people who are brought to the US against their will or on the basis of false promises. 9:50:08 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked for discussion among members. SENATOR GUESS asked Representative Kerttula to give an example of human trafficking in the second degree. REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA explained there are different states of mind in criminal law. There are intentional, negligent, reckless, and knowingly. HB 148 seeks to separate the punishment accordingly. A strip club owner who saw what was going on and chose to ignore it would be second level or reckless. It is a lesser crime with lesser punishment but the behavior should still be criminalized. SENATOR GUESS asked whether something could be done about deportation at the state level. REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said the federal government is addressing that. The next stage in development in anti- trafficking on the federal level has included special visas that women who are victims of trafficking can apply for. The first step is to criminalize trafficking on a state level and the next step would be to develop a task force or do something with social services. Anchorage has a federal grant to be able to do work on the issue. 9:55:03 AM SENATOR GUESS advised the members that the effective date would need to be changed on page 2. She asked members to consider an immediate effective date. CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 9:55:51 AM. 10:02:51 AM MS. ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, criminal division, Department of Law (DOL) introduced herself. CHAIR SEEKINS advised Ms. Carpeneti that the committee was looking at both HB 101 and HB 148 at the moment. He asked her to look at HB 101 and advise the committee of the rationale behind DOL's Draft A. MS. CARPENETI advised it is tighter and narrower. The DOL is concerned that promoting travel for the purpose of another person engaging in acts of prostitution might cover activity the DOL would not be looking to cover, such as the cab driver who takes a person to a place where the driver knows commercial sex might be available. 10:06:10 AM REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said on reflection, he would prefer the Draft A version submitted by the DOL. It is not the intent of the bill to include an airline or a taxicab company. CHAIR SEEKINS asked the penalty for promoting prostitution in the second degree as compared to promoting sex tourism. 10:09:04 AM MS. CARPENETI advised both penalties are a class C felony. CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether there is a reason to separate the crimes versus utilizing the existing statute. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said the enticement language in Draft A is cleaner and, all things being equal it makes more sense to put it within the existing statute rather than create new law. CHAIR SEEKINS said it was the habit of the Senate Judiciary Committee to try to utilize existing statute as much as possible rather than to create new crimes. SENATOR FRENCH agreed. 10:12:28 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked for further testimony. Seeing none, he asked for discussion among committee members. Senator French moved Amendment 1 to HB 101. Strike the language in version F.A completely and replace it with Draft A from the DOL. Hearing no objections, the amendment was adopted. 10:14:05 AM SENATOR GUESS moved Amendment 2 to HB 101. Add an immediate effective date to the bill. Hearing no objections, the amendment was adopted. 10:14:05 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked Ms. Anne Carpeneti to comment on HB 148. MS. ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law (DOL), testified the DOL has worked with Representative Kerttula on the bill and the DOL fully supports it in its current form. 10:15:41 AM SENATOR GUESS moved Amendment 1 to HB 148 to make the effective date immediate. Hearing no objections, the amendment was adopted. CHAIR SEEKINS held HB 101 and HB 148 in committee.