This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill that would provide law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to combat human trafficking passed a House committee unanimously Thursday afternoon.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored HB163 in response to closing gaps in the state's ability to go after human traffickers that primarily targeted children.

The bill, if passed into law, would remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting individuals engaged in human trafficking as well as bar a defense claim by a smuggler that the age of the kidnapped individual wasn't known to them at the time of the crime.

It also would increase the penalties — all felonies — for using children in prostitution or smuggling children for the purpose of slavery or sexual exploitation.

The measure passed the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee 8-0 and moves to the House floor.

Twitter: @davemontero