FRANKFORT —  A House bill to help combat human trafficking in Kentucky has cleared another legislative hurdle as it won approval from a Senate committee on Thursday.

House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro is sponsor of the measure, House bill 2. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee why the bill is needed. “We have found that it is a growing item, and that we have a lack of education in our communities on what exactly human trafficking is.”

While previous legislation mandates signs be posted at rest areas along interstate highways with the National Human Trafficking Hotline, (888) 373-7888, to report possible human trafficking, Miles says her bill adds more.  “Truck stops, train stations, airports and bus stations, would also be required to post signage.”

Heather Wages of the Attorney General’s office called other features of the bill, “A comprehensive approach to deter future trafficking in the Commonwealth, as well as protecting the most vulnerable Kentuckians.”

It also closes a loophole, she testified. “Previously, the sex offender registry would not require registration for those who had adult victims and commercial sex trafficking activity. This bill closes that loophole and makes all individuals who prey on Kentuckians, register as sex offenders.”

The bill passed unanimously.

In other action, the committee approved HB 361, which requires written agreements between the originating jail and the receiving jail to transfer prisoners. If a jail is at 150 percent or more of capacity, the Department of Corrections could transfer prisoners to other under capacity facilities.

The panel also passed HB 424, which would raise the threshold for felony theft and fraud cases from $300 to $1,000. Those between $500 and $999 would become Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail; while offenses between $300 and $499 would be Class B misdemeanors, with up to a month behind bars.

If someone committed several thefts over a 90-day period, police and prosecutors could add up the value of the crimes, to determine the proper charge.

Drew Fox with the Fraternal Order of Police testified against the bill saying, “It gives a seeming pay raise to those who are out committing this level of crime.”

All three bills now head to the Senate floor, where if approved, would go to the governor.

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