A bill to increase penalties on individuals convicted of trafficking humans passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning on a unanimous vote. Senate Bill 673 heads to the Senate floor for approval.
“This morning we took the first step of action against the perpetrators of oppression,” said Senator Betsy Close (R-Albany/Corvallis) who co-sponsored the bill with Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). “There is still some more work to do, but we are on the right track and I believe this legislature will adopt a strong set of anti-trafficking measures before we adjourn.”
Senate Bill 673 criminalizes domestic minor sex trafficking, increases sentencing allowances for consumers, suppliers and facilitators of sex trafficking, provides greater protection for child victims of sex trafficking and gives investigators and prosecutors additional tools.
“My hope is that this bill will allow us to aggressively pursue and prosecute sex traffickers, and ultimately prevent it from happening,” said Close. “I also hope it gives victims courage, ensures them that they are not alone.”
Every year, over 100,000 children are trafficked for sex in the United States, and, on average, these children are first exploited at age thirteen. Human trafficking is a $9.8 billion industry in this country, and it is happening in Oregon.
Oregon recently received a “D” in a report card from Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to fighting sex trafficking. The report outlines several flaws in Oregon’s sex trafficking law.
Starting in 1999, Close served for six years as a State Representative in the Oregon House of Representatives. She was Chairwoman of the House Water & Environment Committee and House Business, Labor, and Consumer Affairs; and Co-Chair of the Joint Natural Resources Committee. She served in leadership as Assistant Majority Leader from 2001 to 2005. She was appointed to the Oregon State Senate in 2012.
Betsy Close has been married to Christopher Close for 40 years. The couple have four grown children.
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