One anti-human trafficking bill signed, another pocket vetoed due to drafting error
Governor Kay Ivey has officially signed into law one anti-human trafficking bill that was passed by the Alabama legislature, but another bill had to be pocket vetoed due to a drafting error in a last-minute amendment.
HB 261 has been signed into law and could receive a ceremonial public signing in August.
This legislation requires all new commercial driver licensees to undergo industry-specific human trafficking training. Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization that trains truckers on identifying human trafficking victims in their daily work life, will work with junior colleges and trade schools to facilitate the training.
However, HB 262 has not become law.
This bill would have clarified existing law to prohibit publishing photos of those charged with the act of prostitution, while allowing for publishing photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution. The bill was aimed at deterring “Johns” from purchasing sex and supporting human trafficking, while protecting potential victims of human trafficking from public identification.
Unfortunately, a last-minute amendment by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), intended to protect innocent people accused of being “Johns” from public exposure, contained a drafting error that, after careful legal review by the governor’s office, was discovered to have made HB 262 more ambiguous and potentially detrimental for victims. For that reason, Ivey’s staff advised her to pocket veto the bill, which she has done.
House Assistant Minority Leader Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) sponsored both bills and Senate Judiciary Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) carried the bills through the Senate. State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) and State Sen. Linda Coleman- Madison (D-Birmingham) also provided integral leadership in the process.
With passage of HB 261, Alabama becomes the ninth state to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking and pass a law mandating human trafficking training for new CDL drivers.
A new version of HB 262 will be introduced during the legislature’s 2020 regular session, and Coleman’s team plans to work closely with the governor’s office and her Republican counterparts to ensure passage of a clean bill next time around.
“We are disappointed that HB262 was not signed, but are thankful for the diligence of the Governor’s staff in catching the drafting error,” Coleman said in a statement. “I look forward to working more closely with her office and my Republican colleagues on future human trafficking related legislation.”
Ivey has also signed two human trafficking resolutions: HJR 145 and HJR 244.
HJR 145 encourages ALEA to continue developing curriculum to ensure that every law enforcement officer and agent in the state is trained regarding human trafficking victim identification.
HJR 244 creates the Alabama Healthcare Human Trafficking Training Program Commission, which is tasked with developing a training module for all healthcare related employees to readily identify and provide trauma-centered care for human trafficking victims.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn