Bill to crack down on human trafficking passes House

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The House approved a series of tough new penalties for those who engage in human trafficking or patronize children or others who have been trafficked for commercial purposes.

Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, said nationally as many as 100,000 children are trafficked or sexually exploited each year and said that on a trip with vice officers she saw advertisements offering sex with minors.

"This is a horrific issue and a very important one," Seelig said.

The bill makes it a first-degree felony to traffic a child for forced labor or sexual exploitation. It makes it a second-degree felony to patronize a prostitute who has been a victim of human trafficking and a first-degree felony if it involves a child.

The bill passed the House unanimously and moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill has the backing of the Attorney General's Office.

— Robert Gehrke