Lawmakers target adult entertainment in effort to stop human trafficking

Photo courtesy: 106.5 WYRK

To combat human trafficking within the adult entertainment industry, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice is poised to deliberate on legislation this week. Sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Senator Clay Yarborough, Senate Bill 1690 seeks to implement measures to curb exploitation and abuse in this sector.

The proposed bill aims to prohibit the employment of individuals under the age of 21 in adult entertainment establishments, with violators facing charges of a first-degree misdemeanor. Furthermore, the legislation proposes enhanced penalties for establishments found employing individuals under 21 who expose themselves, signaling a robust stance against such illicit activities.

According to the BNN, the scope of the bill extends across various adult establishments, including bookstores, theaters, cabarets and unlicensed massage parlors, highlighting the comprehensive approach taken to address potential avenues for human trafficking.

Amid the ongoing legislative efforts to combat human trafficking in Florida, it is crucial to acknowledge the multifaceted approach needed to address this complex issue. Beyond legislative measures, collaboration between law enforcement agencies, community organizations and the private sector is essential in effectively identifying and supporting victims, prosecuting traffickers and preventing future exploitation. 

The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported that Florida consistently ranks among the top states (third) for cases of human trafficking, highlighting the state’s significant challenge in combating this heinous crime.

While supporters of the bill assert its necessity in tackling the pervasive issue of human trafficking, concerns have been raised by some lawmakers regarding potential constitutional implications. The debate revolves around the delicate balance between safeguarding individuals from exploitation and respecting adults’ autonomy to engage in such work voluntarily.

A similar bill, House Bill 1379, spearheaded by Orlando Republican Representative Carolina Amesty, is making strides in the legislative process, with just one more committee stop remaining before potential consideration by the full House.

According to Florida Senate records, Representative Amesty first proposed the bill in early January to raise the age, which stands at 21. 

The progress of HB 1379, spearheaded by Amesty, indicates bipartisan support for addressing this issue across both chambers of the Florida Legislature. With just one more committee stop remaining before potential consideration by the full House, the bill is on track for implementation by July 1, 2024.

The discussion within the Senate Appropriations Committee this past Tuesday, is expected to be extended, as lawmakers deliberate on the merits of the proposed legislation and its potential impact on combating human trafficking within the adult entertainment industry. 

Stay tuned for updates and information on this critical legislative development on SB 1690 on The Florida Senate’s official website.