KIMT News 3 – When the 2014 Iowa legislative session kicked off in January, lawmakers said they weren’t expecting too to be accomplished given that it is an election year and a shorter session.
However, it out things are moving along in Des Moines and important matters, like sex trafficking, are being discussed.
Mary Ingham with Crisis Intervention Services in Mason City has been an advocate for legislation on this issue for some time now.
She believes that one of the biggest accomplishments so far is starting the conversation.
“I think there is still that misconception that this isn’t something that happens in rural Iowa, but the reality is, it is,” Ingham said.
This harsh reality has given way to a bill that’s moving through both chambers of the Iowa statehouse.
It will tighten up penalties for sexual exploitation of minors and will establish a fund for programs to help victims of human trafficking.
The newest amendment to the bill would allow for the Attorney General to request a warrant from county attorneys to intercept phone calls and text messages from anyone involved in a trafficking ring.
“Human trafficking goes across the state,” Rep. Sharon Steckman, (D) Mason City, said, “they spend two days in one county, two days in another, a day in another, they’re all over the state so having this capability is important.”
This is expected to be one of the final amendments to the bill, and Steckman says she is confident the legislation could land on the governor’s desk very soon.
Minnesota is just a couple of steps ahead of Iowa with human trafficking laws.
They’ve already passed legislation dealing with human trafficking, including a safe harbor law that will become active in August.
Local lawmakers say it has been very helpful to have a state so close do so much with the issue because they have had the opportunity to share accomplishments and set-backs.