The fight against human trafficking is again firing up and a few new bills are aiming to combat the issue on the front lines of the nation’s truck stops.
The most controversial bill passed through the Senate Sept. 14 and is called The No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, S1532. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and would impose a lifetime ban on truck drivers who use a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony involving human trafficking.
The second bill, The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles, S1536, was sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator within the Department of Transportation. Both bills were approved by unanimous consent in the full Senate and will still need to pass through the House before they become federal law.
“The Senate’s passage of these bipartisan bills is an important step in the ongoing battle against human trafficking. These bills create a commonsense consequence for egregious wrongdoing and serve as a starting point for better recognition and reporting of human trafficking by commercial drivers,’’ Thune said in a public statement.
However, Truckers Against Trafficking does not support anti-trafficking tactics that would impose a lifetime ban on truck drivers.
“We are fully aware that trucking is one of the most over-regulated industries, and that you cannot legislate the mind and heart,’’ Truckers Against Trafficking said in a July statement. “We also recognize that both sides of the aisle are coming together around this issue, and therefore it is imperative that we try and work with them to form the legislation being proposed so that it does take into consideration the needs and concerns of the industry.’’
The organization also said that the only federal bill it supports thus far is S1536, which would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“This would help to increase outreach, education and reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and provide CDL schools who are implementing anti-trafficking education additional financial assistance. This bill only incentivizes training at the federal level. It does not mandate it.’’
Last week another bill was introduced in Wisconsin by Rep. Joel Kleefisch and would require technical colleges and licensed commercial driving schools to educate drivers to look for the signs of human trafficking as a requirement to get their CDL.
“Human trafficking is a massive problem in Wisconsin. With proximity to Chicago and being in the middle of the country, Wisconsin is a hub for human trafficking,’’ Kleefisch said. “Truckers travel this country, they stop at the truck stops that are often where human trafficking takes place. If they know the signs and they know how to get help to those being trafficked they can be a front line tool ending this abhorrent practice.’’
Kleefisch has also indicated that the U.S. Department of Justice and Truckers Against Human Trafficking are in support of this legislation and the bill is now being circulated for legislative co-authors.