UPDATED 3/3/11 2:11 p.m.

Anti-human trafficking advocates returned to the Legislature this year with a new slate of bills, but it appears none that specifically criminalize human trafficking remain viable.

Last year, advocates came close to success. The Hawaii Legislature unanimously passed a measure that criminalized sex-trafficking, but vague wording in the bill caused law enforcement, prosecutors and public defenders to line up against the measure. Former Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it.

Hawaii, one of five states that does not have a human trafficking law, clearly has a human trafficking problem. The question is whether a state law is needed to address it.

Federal prosecutors in Honolulu filed the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history in September 2010. The case involved about 400 Thai farm workers who had been forced to work at farms across Hawaii and several mainland states. In a separate case, local farm owners Alec and Mike Sou of Aloun Farms face trial for alleged labor trafficking violations.

Here’s a look at the human trafficking-related bills lawmakers have seen. Six bills seek to establish specific human trafficking criminal statutes. All six have stalled in committee and will not make it out of their final committees in time to be filed by 9 p.m. on March 3. It appears none will be viable for the 2011 legislative session.

The only related bills that are alive are the Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s bill package — House bills 240, 241, and 242 — which propose harsher penalties for prostitution offenses. None of the bills as amended contain the words “human trafficking.”

Criminalizing Sex Trafficking

Senate Bill 959

What It Does: Criminalizes sex trafficking by establishing sex trafficking as class A and B felonies. Amends the current promoting prostitution statues to include a sex-trafficking definition. Provides for witness protection of victims.

The Latest: Referred to the Judiciary Committee. That Sens. Jill Tokuda and Rosalyn Baker are among the co-sponsors speaks positively in the bill’s favor, however the bill was not scheduled for a hearing and appears to be dead.

House Bill 576

What It Does: This the identical House companion bill to SB 959.

The Latest: Referred to two committees: Judiciary and Human Services. Passed out of Human Services, but did not get a hearing before the Judiciary Committee by March 3. Appears to be dead.

House Bill 497

What It Does: Establishes class A and class B felony sex trafficking offenses. Includes sex trafficking offenses in the official proceedings or investigations that are to be given greatest priority for purposes of witness protection programs.

The Latest: Referred to two committees: Judiciary and Human Services. Passed out of Human Services, but did not get a hearing before Judiciary Committee by March 3. Appears to be dead.

Criminalizing Labor Trafficking

Senate Bill 960

What It Does: Criminalizes labor trafficking by establishing class A and B felony labor trafficking offenses. Provides for restitution and back wages, but only if there is a successful prosecution.

The Latest: The measure has been referred to two committees, no hearings scheduled. Same sponsors as SB 959. Appears to be dead.

House Bill 577

What It Does: This is the House companion bill to SB960.

The Latest: Referred to the Labor and Judiciary Committees. Passed out of Human Services, did not get a Judiciary Committee hearing by March 3. Appears to be dead.

Covering Both Sex and Labor Trafficking

House Bill 946

What It Does: Criminalizes labor and sex trafficking by establishing class A, B, and C felony sexual human trafficking offenses and class A, B, and C felony labor trafficking offenses, and provisions related to prosecution of the offenses. Provides for witness protection, but only for sex trafficking victims.

The Latest: The bill was the first with a hearing. Passed out of Human Services, did not get a Judiciary Committee hearing by March 3. Appears to be dead.

Regarding Social Services for Trafficking Victims

House Bill 1452

What It Does: Requires the state to provide social services for victims of human trafficking.

The Latest: Referred to three committees. No hearing scheduled. Appears to be dead.

House Bill 1477

What It Does: Allows the Department of Health to establish multi-agency “family justice centers” on any island to aid several types of victims, including trafficking victims.

The Latest: Referred to three committees, pass out of Human Services, referred to the Judiciary Committee but did not get a hearing. Appears to be dead.

House Bill 515

What It Does: Appropriates moneys from the emergency and budget reserve fund to maintain levels of programs for public health, safety, welfare, and education.

The Latest: Referred to two committees. No hearing scheduled. Appears to be dead.

Senate Bill 935

What it does: Appropriates moneys from the emergency and budget reserve fund to maintain levels of programs for public health, safety, welfare, and education.

The Latest: Passed out of Ways and Means Committee with amendments. Bill still alive.

Honolulu Prosecutor’s Prostitution Bills

Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro acknowledges human trafficking is a problem for the state, he will not push to create a human trafficking law in Hawaii. He believes current prostitution laws can be used to handle most sex trafficking cases. As part of his 2011 legislative package, the prosecutor is proposing tougher sentencing for prostitution offenders and recognition under the law that some prostitutes are victims.

The three bills he’s proposed are:

House Bill 240

What it does: Amends section 28-101, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to give the “greatest priority” to cases involving promoting prostitution, when the attorney general is determining whether to fund or provide for witness security and protection.

The latest: Introduced by House Speaker Calvin Say. Referred to the Judiciary Committee, which passed it without amendments. Scheduled for Third Reading by March 3 deadline. Bill is still alive.

House Bill 241

What it does: Toughens laws for pimps: Increases the grade of offense for promoting prostitution in the first, second, and third degree to a class A, B, and C felony, respectively.

The latest: Introduced by House Speaker Calvin Say. Referred to Judiciary Committee, which passed it with amendments. Scheduled for Third Reading by March 3 deadline. Bill is still alive.

House Bill 242

What it does: Solicitors of prostitutes, or “johns,” will no longer be tried under a misdemeanor offense if the offender has two or more prior convictions. Instead, habitual offenders will face Class C felony charges, which can result in five years of jail time.

The latest: Introduced by House Speaker Calvin Say. Referred to the Judiciary Committee. Bill passed with amendments on to Third Reading by March 3 deadline. Bill is still alive.


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