State Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist., recommended an amendment to a human trafficking bill on the Senate floor Wednesday that would require funding be routed to local communities to assist with securely housing victims of human trafficking.
"Senate Bill 61 has unfunded mandates that undoubtedly result in costs incurred by counties," said Pettey during her explanation of the amendment. "This amendment speaks to our responsibility to help local governments with funding. It does not take away from the bill's purpose to help victims of human trafficking."
The bill mandates victims of human trafficking or commercial exploitation be held in a staff secure facility, which includes county jails. The bill also establishes a Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund using fines paid by offenders. This money would pay for services provided to victims such as support care and treatment.
The amendment Pettey proposed would divide fines collected between the Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Fund and a second fund established to assist counties.
"The money would be split with 50 percent going to the victim fund and 50 percent going to a juvenile detention facilities victim assistance fund," Pettey said. "This split would help defray costs for counties and would still provide victims with assistance."
Sen. David Haley, D-4th DIst., echoed Pettey when he spoke during the floor debate in full support of the amendment.
"Local governments often complain about unfunded mandates coming from the state," Haley said. "When we make laws here in Topeka, we cannot pass the buck off to the counties. We have to provide real revenue for implementation and prevent property tax increases. This amendment is the responsible thing to do."
The amendment received full support from the Democrats in a voice vote, but failed all together. The bill will go on to final action in the Senate Thursday.