Legislature(2021 - 2022)

2022-02-11 House Journal

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2022-02-11                     House Journal                      Page 1820
HB 317                                                                                                                        
HOUSE BILL NO. 317 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                   
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to sex trafficking; establishing the crime of                                                             
     patron of a victim of sex trafficking; relating to the crime of                                                            
     human trafficking; relating to sentencing for sex trafficking and                                                          
     patron of a victim of sex trafficking; establishing the process for a                                                      
     vacatur of judgment for a conviction of prostitution; and providing                                                        
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Judiciary, and                                                       
Finance Committees.                                                                                                             

2022-02-11                     House Journal                      Page 1821
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Dept. of Corrections                                                                                                  
2.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                                                          
3.  Zero, Dept. of Public Safety                                                                                                
4.  Fiscal, Dept. of Administration                                                                                             
5.  Fiscal, Dept. of Administration                                                                                             
6.  Fiscal, Dept. of Public Safety                                                                                              
The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 10 follows:                                                                    
"Dear Speaker Stutes:                                                                                                           
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill to clarify and improve Alaska's                                                          
sex trafficking and human trafficking laws; establish the crime of                                                              
patron of a victim of sex trafficking; and create a process for a sex                                                           
trafficking victim convicted of prostitution to have that conviction                                                            
Alaska's sex trafficking and human trafficking statutes do not                                                                  
adequately address the serious nature of these offenses or provide                                                              
sufficient protections for underage victims. The current language in                                                            
these statutes is archaic and fails to address the realities faced by                                                           
individuals forced into the labor or sex trade, creating situations where                                                       
victims are unaided and perpetrators go undetected.                                                                             
The proposed legislation will restructure the human trafficking and sex                                                         
trafficking statutes to address the realities of how these offenses are                                                         
committed and to protect underage victims. It increases the penalties                                                           
for all forms of trafficking placing the most serious classification on                                                         
those crimes that use force to traffic an underage person. Sex                                                                  
trafficking in the first, second and third degrees are now treated as sex                                                       
offenses for purposes of sentencing thereby enhancing the penalties.                                                            
Sex trafficking in the first and second degrees would also require sex                                                          
offender registration, while sex trafficking in the third would not                                                             
require registration. The legislation also establishes the new crime of                                                         
"patron of a victim of sex trafficking." While it is crucial to target                                                          
those who traffic individuals, it is equally important to address those                                                         
who create a demand for victims of sex trafficking, specifically                                                                
underage victims.                                                                                                               

2022-02-11                     House Journal                      Page 1822
The legislation also targets those who patronize those engaging in sex                                                          
work. First, it increases the penalties for this conduct and establishes                                                        
mandatory minimums based on the number of times a person is                                                                     
convicted. If a person is convicted three times within five years, the                                                          
offense will become a felony. Sex trafficking would not exist without                                                           
those who pay for sex. We cannot begin to address this scourge if we                                                            
continue to look the other way as people continually fund the sex                                                               
trafficking industry.                                                                                                           
Finally, the legislation establishes a mechanism by which a person                                                              
convicted of prostitution can request the conviction be vacated if they                                                         
were a victim of sex trafficking at the time of the prostitution offense.                                                       
The threat of being charged with a crime is often something that                                                                
traffickers will use to continue to control their victims. It is important                                                      
for society to recognize that these victims often have no other choice,                                                         
and they should not be treated as criminals when they are, in fact,                                                             
victims themselves.                                                                                                             
Human trafficking and sex trafficking are insidious crimes that ruin                                                            
lives. It is time that our statutes begin to adequately address the                                                             
devastation this predatory conduct has on our society and protect those                                                         
who need it most.                                                                                                               
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Mike Dunleavy