From the Coalition for Rights and Safety:
Two public hearings of interest have been scheduled for next week (so far).
1) HB 2320
The hearing for HB 2320 has been scheduled for next week Tuesday, January 21st at 1:30pm in House Committee on Consumer Protection & Business.
HB 2320 requires hotels and other places transient accommodation to provide annual human trafficking training for their employees. The training would include definitions, how to identify trafficking victims, how to respond to suspected human trafficking, and contact information for the national human trafficking hotline and law enforcement agencies. It would require hotels to post human trafficking awareness signage for employees and develop policy and procedure for reporting suspected human trafficking.
While education about human trafficking is generally good, “suspected human trafficking” in this context is just a code for any instance of sex trade. This bill threatens to exacerbate racial and other profiling of certain guests as “pimps and prostitutes,” increase harmful involvement of the law enforcement where it is not helpful, and further take away the ability of sex workers and people in the sex trade to work safely.
Whenever I see policies like this, I think about the hair salon outreach that I learned about while working in the anti-domestic violence field, which educated hair stylists about basics of domestic violence and how to offer support and resources. It was a great fit, because women generally come in to hair salons without their men, stay there for a period of time, and talk about stuff. Hair stylists develop relationship and rapport with the women who come in, which give them ability to offer support and resources in a way a domestic violence advocate who is on the other side of the hotline can’t. The outreach would never work if hair stylists were told to call the police on any “suspected domestic violence.”
By “training” and deputizing medical providers, airline employees, cab/uber drivers, and hotel workers to “identify” (profile) suspected trafficking cases (which is not even distinguished from sex trade that does not involve human trafficking) and encouraging them to make reports, we are missing the opportunities to actually build relationship with people who could potentially benefit from outreach but would be devastated by unwanted attention from the law enforcement.
2) SB 5744
Another hearing for SB 5744 has been scheduled for next Thursday, January 23rd at 1:30pm in the Senate Committee on Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation. Again, after we already had a hearing for the same bill in the same committee last year.
SB 5744 is Washington’s belated Safe Harbor legislation that would decriminalize prostitution for minors. This makes sense since everyone is saying that minors engaging in sex trade should be treated as victims, not criminals, but because the law enforcement wants to maintain their ability to detain youth and confiscate their belongings (cell phones), and also because folks think using the police to coerce youth back into programs that have already failed them over and over is somehow a good idea, so they won’t let decriminalization happen without slipping in bunch of other stuff in the bill.
In particular, this bill creates a new law enforcement hold to “evaluate” youth, supposedly at one of those “receiving centers” also to be created by this bill, except no funding is made available for them. Last year, retired Judge Barbara Mack pushed for an amendment to postpone the decriminalization part indefinitely, which bill sponsor seemed to agree with, but no amendment was introduced.
So Who can go to these hearings? Who can submit opinions online? Here’s the link that tells you how to submit comments: