News release from House Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The effort to combat human trafficking received a major boost today with passage of an important bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives. If the bill becomes law, victims of human trafficking offenses would have a civil right of action for actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, any combination of these, or any other appropriate relief.
Representative Jim Coley (R–Bartlett), a strong advocate for the rights of victims, celebrated the passage of House Bill 2489–a personal priority for Coley. The legislation passed with unanimous, bipartisan support.
“This is a strong first step for what I expect will be several measures to battle human trafficking,” stated Coley. “I have laid out a robust agenda that focuses on ways to strengthen the hands of law enforcement and gives victims a better ability to prosecute those who would perpetrate such deplorable things.”
Under the legislation, “Trafficked person” is defined as a victim of a human trafficking offense, which is the commission of any act that constitutes the criminal offense of:
(1) Involuntary labor servitude;
(2) Trafficking persons for forced labor or services;
(3) Trafficking a person for sexual servitude; or
(4) Promoting the prostitution of a minor.
The bill also extends to loved ones of the victim. A legal guardian, family member, representative of the trafficked person or court appointee may represent the trafficked person or the trafficked person’s estate if deceased. If the trafficked person dies as a result of a human trafficking offense, a surviving spouse of the trafficked person is eligible for restitution.
“Human trafficking is a scourge that affects all of Tennessee. We sit squarely in the middle of the United States and we are blessed to be a tourist destination because of our natural scenery and unique industries. But those attributes also attract some of the worst kinds of individuals who are essentially enslaving people for profit. That has to end. I believe, with this action today, we are on the road to doing just that,” concluded Coley.