Sen. Gina Walsh’s Legislation to Further Protect Missouri’s Victims of Human Trafficking and Stalking Heads to Governor

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JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri General Assembly gave its approval Tuesday to House Bill 1562, legislation that seeks to expand the crime of sexual trafficking of a child, among other provisions. The final version of the bill includes two amendments sponsored by State Senator Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, which will provide greater protections for victims of stalking and human trafficking in Missouri.

“Many people wrongly assume human trafficking is a problem that primarily occurs in developing nations, but that is simply not the case,” said Sen. Walsh. “This modern day form of slavery has occurred in all 50 states. In fact, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there were 67 reported cases of human trafficking in Missouri in 2015 alone. My legislation will provide an extra layer of protection for Missouri’s victims of human trafficking by allowing them to participate in the Secretary of State’s address confidentiality program: Safe at Home.”

Safe at Home was established in 2007 to provide survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or stalking with a substitute mailing address through the Secretary of State’s office, which then forwards all mail and maintains the confidentiality of the participant’s location. According to the Secretary of State’s office, the program has protected more than 2,000 Missourians to-date.

“It is also my privilege to report that another amendment I offered to HB 1562 will update Missouri’s criminal code so that a person commits the offense of stalking in the first degree, which is currently a class E felony, if he or she knowingly accesses or attempts to access the address of someone who is participating in the Safe at Home program,” added Sen. Walsh.

Senator Walsh’s amendments to HB 1562 are identical to provisions contained in her Senate Bill 886, relating to the crime of aggravated or first degree stalking, and Senate Bill 888, relating to human trafficking victims.