The New York State Senate acted unanimously last week to pass its counterpart (S.4763) to Assemblyman Hevesi’s legislation, Assembly bill 551, which would extend and expand upon the interagency task force on human trafficking. After full bipartisan support, in which the legislation did not receive one nay vote in either of the state’s upper or lower legislative houses, the bill will now go to the Governor for his consideration.
According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, over 50 percent of trafficking victims are minors, reflecting approximately 100,000-300,000 children across the United States. A.551 would reauthorize the activities of the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking until at least 2019. Charged with a wide scope of responsibility (e.g. studying the nature of trafficking, coordinating local, federal, and private sector resources, etc.), the Task Force would be expanded to include seven additional representatives: two nominated by each house of the New York State Legislature, two by prominent nonprofit organizations, and one by the New York State Bar Association. In addition, reports with up-to-date information would be published annually, ensuring all who have a role in fighting human trafficking have up-to-date information, particularly regarding the efficacy of their policies. These changes come as modifications to milestone legislation passed in 2007, which increased penalties and created novel offenses for trafficking-related activities.
“We must constantly evaluate all available services in order to ensure that we are adequately addressing the needs of victims and doing all we can to prevent further victimization and exploitation,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee. “Combating human trafficking in New York is an essential undertaking, and we must remain vigilant in our efforts.”