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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott puts a spotlight on sex trafficking victims in speech

5

March

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Rick Scott highlighted human trafficking, saying his proposed 2013-14 budget includes $1.5 million to provide safe houses for victims.

In his speech Tuesday morning, Scott referred to Allison Good, who in a YouTube video describes how she was used for sexual favors and drugged when she was just five years old.

“She eventually came to Florida where she continued to be a victim of trafficking into her early 20s,” said Scott. “Today Allison is a warrior in the battle to end this horrible crime. Allison could not be here today, but we are grateful for the God-given bravery she has to share her story and give a voice to millions of victims who suffer in silence.”

Scott said he and his wife Ann met Good when they were in Miami last month -– the governor held a press conference then to announce the state was expanding a pilot program that helps identify sex trafficking victims. Florida lawmakers last year passed the Safe Harbor Act to provide therapeutic environments for children and treat them as victims instead of prostitutes.

A few sex trafficking bills are proposed this session. Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, has a bill (HB 7005) aimed at preventing “illegal activity, such as human trafficking” in massage parlors, making it a first-degree misdemeanor for massage parlors to operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. It doesn’t pertain to massages done in certain places, like a health care facility, or by certain people, including doctors and nurses.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, has proposed the Florida Victim’s Relief Act (SB 974), which protects the confidentiality of a sex trafficking victim.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:38pm]

    

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