For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - A high-profile bill introduced by Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) received its public hearing before the Maine Legislature's Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon.
The bill faced initial resistance from Democrats on political grounds, but with Volk's hard work and persuasion, LD 1730 made it to today's public hearing.
"I'm just glad that the bill finally saw the light of day, and today was the first time it really struck me that a remedy for women trapped by trafficking might be within reach," said Rep. Volk, who introduced the bill before a room packed with advocates and members of the public.
Rep. Volk's original bill simply changed state law to allow courts to vacate the prostitution convictions of women who were charged and convicted as a result of their being victims of human trafficking. Fourteen states currently do this.
An amended version, introduced by Volk Thursday, would also make being a victim of human trafficking an affirmative defense to the crime of prostitution; make sex trafficking compensable by the Maine Victims' Compensation Program, assessing a fine on convicted promoters of human trafficking; and makes the furnishing of drugs to a prostitute an aggravated offense.
Experts and advocates testifying in favor of Rep. Volk's bill included the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Sgt. Steve Webster of the South Portland Police Department, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the National Association of Social Workers.
"I'd like to thank everyone who turned out for the public hearing," added Rep. Volk. "Hopefully, together, we can make a difference in the lives of Maine women in terrible circumstances who find themselves being punished for being a victim." ###
Maine House Republicans
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