Columbus - 
State Senator Scott Oelslager (R- North Canton) applauded the bipartisan passage of legislation that combats human trafficking. Three main goals of House Bill 262 include; increasing awareness of this inhumane practice, creating a more focused effort to help victims reintegrate into society and implementing tougher penalties for offenders. "Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime, and it has been taking place here in our state for far too long," Oelslager said. "This bill gives law enforcement and community leaders new tools to identify and help victims in trafficking situations while also establishing appropriate penalties for offenders." Increasing awareness among law enforcement is critical. House Bill 262 requires special training to peace officers in handling and investigating trafficking cases. This legislation requires the Ohio Attorney General to publish statistics on trafficking and to submit this data to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. In addition, the bill creates the Victims of Human Trafficking Fund to help increase public awareness about human trafficking. This fund will be used for treatment, rehabilitation, education, and housing of sex trafficking victims. House Bill 262, sponsored by Representative Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), gives judges more discretion in sentencing minors charged with prostitution, such as directing them into diversionary programs. This focus on the effort of helping victims is an important piece to the puzzle of human trafficking. The final main component of this legislation is the creation of tougher penalties for human trafficking violations by increasing the penalties for procuring prostitution. If an offender procures prostitution from someone under the age of 16, this will now be a strict liability offense and a fourth-degree felony. If an offender procures prostitution from someone who is 16 or 17 years old, the penalty would be a fifth-degree felony. Ohio's importuning laws were changed to make it a felony to knowingly solicit prostitution from a victim of human trafficking under the age of 18. This bill also requires anyone convicted of promoting trafficking to register as a sex offender. Finally, House Bill 262 recognizes a victims' right to take civil action against those who violate the law. Senator Oelslager is a co-sponsor of this bill and a member of Senate Judiciary Committee. House Bill 262 passed the Ohio Senate with a 32-0 vote and the Ohio House of Representatives with a 98-0 vote. Senator Oelslager represents Ohio's 29th District which contains a portion of Stark County. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. For more information, please visit
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