Photo: Ira Gelb (Flickr)
A bill closing gaps in Indiana’s human trafficking laws is on a fast track for passage before the Super Bowl, but it could be derailed by conflict over an unrelated piece of legislation.
Currently state statute only prohibits forced marriage and prostitution, but the new measure would bar arrangement of any forced sex act. State law also does not specifically prohibit arranging prostitution by a minor if the minor consents, and only parents and guardians are barred from arranging prostitution by their own children.
The bill would expand the law to prohibit anyone from arranging prostitution by a minor. The legislation cleared its first hurdle Thursday as it passed unanimously out of a Senate committee. Indianapolis Republican Senator Mike Young says the only thing he foresees stopping the bill is Democrats keeping the House from conducting business.
“This is an important bill and I think every member ought to decide whether they should be here to vote for these important issues and whether their presence that they were elected to do to be on the floor when this bill comes up to be there,” he says.
Controversial right-to-work legislation, which would ban labor contracts that require non-union employees to pay union dues, caused Democrats to abstain from floor proceedings Wednesday.
Logansport Republican Senator Randy Head, who wrote the human trafficking bill, says his legislation needs to get through as quickly as possible.
“If that requires putting something else aside for a day or two to get everyone into quorum, that’d be wonderful,” he says. “I hope that that would happen.”
Head also urged House Democrats to return to the floor regardless of whether discussion on Right to Work is postponed.