General Assembly Passes Bill to Help Prevent Human Trafficking
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Coyne and Representative Shelby Maldonado, will now go to the Governor.
“Rhode Island has made great strides in recent years in addressing human trafficking, but there’s still much more to be done. Making our laws mirror a national model will better enable Rhode Island to work with other states so we can be more effective in stopping this abominable crime and rescuing its victims. Critically, this bill improves protections and services for victims, who should not be treated as criminals and deserve assistance, and it steps up our efforts to prevent trafficking by increasing awareness so the public will recognize and report suspected cases. This bill will put Rhode Island in a much better position to prevent trafficking, catch and prosecute perpetrators, and free victims and connect them to services that they need,” said Senator Coyne.
The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking would bring Rhode Island’s human trafficking laws in line with national standards as a means to help authorities around the country crack down on a nefarious underground industry that, by definition, generally involves crossing state lines.
It enacts a three strong penalties, protecting and assisting victims and improved public awareness and planning.
The bill also promotes partnerships in the fight against human trafficking and establishes a council on human trafficking to coordinate prevention efforts and establish programs to assist victims. It would also make victims eligible for compensation under the criminal injuries compensation act.
Other States With This Legislation
The legislation, which was drafted by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted by eight other states so far, makes trafficking of a minor a felony punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $40,000.
Trafficking of an adult would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
“Rhode Island remains committed to fighting the deplorable practice of human trafficking in all its forms. This legislation will bring the state into alignment with a national model, allowing Rhode Island to work with other states to bring an end to this heinous crime. Even more importantly, it will increase understanding of this problem by promoting awareness,” said Rep. Maldonado.
Those patronizing a minor for sexual servitude would also be guilty of a felony and subject to up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000. Those who patronize an adult victim of sexual servitude would face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Cosponsoring the Legislation
The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Elaine J. Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Hopkinton, Richmond, Charlestown, Exeter, West Greenwich), Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).
Related Slideshow: FY18 House Finance Budget
The state's community college is poised to be the sole beneficiary of the Governor's Promise scholarship program.
It would make Rhode Island the fourth state to have tuition-free community college, allowing every resident the opportunity to earn an associate's degree tuition free. There is no means testing for the program and few standards.
The cost would be roughly $3 million in the FY18 (for the first cohort of students) and then $6 million the following year there are two classes.
As part of negotiations -- and the fiscal realities facing Rhode Island with a nearly $140 million shortfally, the Speaker announced Thursday that $25 million will be cut in general spending.
"It's something we discussed with the Governor and she thinks she can make [it] work," said Matteillo.
Also on the chopping block -- funding for the legislative office to the tune of $2 million.
Elderly and Disabled Bus Riders
After levying fares on some of the most needy RIPTA bus riders (the elderly and disabled) for the first time this past year, which resulted in strong public outcry, the House Finance budget contains just over $3 million -- for each of the next two years -- to refund the program this coming year.
Mattiello noted that after the two years is up, it is up to the Governor to find the funding.
On Thursday, Raimondo learned she is poised to get a piece (jCCRI) of her free college tuition proposal, which had been a major focal point of her budget proposal - and political strategy.
On the flip side, she is tasked with finding $25 million in government spending to cut, in order to balance the budget.
Unlike the May estimating conference, where Rhode Island revenues were found to be off nearly $100 million plus, the Governor can't say she didn't see this coming.
Medical Marijuana Expansion
In June, Raimondo called for an increase in medical marijuana dispensaries and an increase in licensing fees to generate $1.5 million in revenue for the state.
She called for "no less than six licensed compassion centers."
On Thursday, Mattiello said it was not in the budget, due the proposal's late timing.
While Mattiello made scant mention of cuts in the briefing Thursday - save for the $25 million out of government spending -- the question was raised as to where the rest of the $140 million shortfall will come from.
"Millions in cuts came from the Commerce Corp budget. The budget kept the Rebuild RI funding, but money for several other Commerce programs were reduced," said Larry Berman, spokesman for Mattiello.
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