A bill that would strengthen Kentucky's human trafficking laws has passed a Senate committee and appears ready to finally become law.
House Bill 3 is sponsored by state Rep. Sannie Overly, a Paris Democrat and the House majority caucus chair. It's considered so-called "safe harbor legislation," which would require treatment for victims of human trafficking instead of legal ramifications, such as prostitution or immigration charges.
After a few small changes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill passed easily Thursday and heads to the Senate floor. The legislation has already passed the House.
Overly said years of work on the bill—plus changes to this year's bill to recruit past opponents—gives House Bill 3 a good chance to become law.
"Multiple agencies and organizations have come together to really craft a piece of legislation that we think will address the problem," she said.
Many victims of human trafficking are children or immigrants, who are forced into labor work or as sex slaves.
The state currently doesn't know how much human trafficking happens in Kentucky, Overly said. But she said the number will likely rise if House Bill 3 becomes law because the state will start to crackdown on it.
"But because of where we are located, because of the number of interstate highways, because this is a mobile crime... I think we'll see these numbers go up," Overly says.
Unlike in past years, House Bill 3 is ready to be voted on the Senate floor immediately, having already had two readings.