HARRISBURG – The Senate unanimously supported the “Buyer Beware Act” today to fight human trafficking in Pennsylvania, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).
The legislation would increase penalties on those who traffic victims or solicit the services of human trafficking victims. The bill also makes it a super felony – punishable by up to 40 years in prison – for offenders if the victim is a minor.
“Today, the Senate took an important step to be a leader on the national stage to end the demand for human trafficking,” Phillips-Hill said to her colleagues during the Senate vote. “This issue affects every corner of our commonwealth and I am grateful that my colleagues joined me in standing with the victims of human trafficking to fight this form of modern-day slavery.”
Senate Bill 60 increases both grading and financial penalties on individuals who traffic victims as well as offenders who patronize victims.
Individuals found guilty of recruiting, enticing, soliciting, advertising, transporting, harboring, providing, obtaining or maintaining a trafficked victim will receive a first-degree felony charge if the victim is subject to sexual servitude; and a second-degree felony charge if that victim is subject to labor servitude.
An individual could be charged with a super felony if a victim subjected to sexual servitude is a minor.
If a criminal patronizes a victim of sexual servitude, the individual will face increased fines from $1,000 to $25,000 for first-time offenders; $5,000 to $25,000 for second-time offenders; and $10,000 to $50,000 for any subsequent offenses.
“I am grateful for the stakeholders who helped craft this much-needed tool for law enforcement to end human trafficking, including York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, as well as Representative Seth Grove, who has similar legislation in the House of Representatives,” she added.
The legislation moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
You can listen to Senator Phillips-Hill discuss her legislation here.