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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed several bills into law on Tuesday aimed at protecting victims of human trafficking.
Last week, 9 Investigates exposed hotels and motels in Florida had been cited more than 15,000 times for failing to train staff to spot the signs of human trafficking. Of those violations, none had ever been fined, including repeat offenders.
“No fines, because they have 90 days to correct whatever is wrong,” Survivor Savannah Parvu said. “That’s just like an unlimited pass.”
On Tuesday, Parvu stood next to DeSantis as he signed a law reducing the amount of time those facilities have to come into compliance if they’re found not training their employees from 90 to 45 days. As part of the change, any subsequent violation would result in an immediate fine of $2,000 per day.
“So I think that will really light a fire, and make sure establishments will take this more seriously,” DeSantis said.
It’s just one part of several pieces of legislation the governor signed Tuesday, aimed at addressing human trafficking. Another includes creating certification and regulation standards for adult human trafficking safehouses.
“Safehouses need to have appropriate tools in place to meet the moment,” DeSantis said.
That change comes after 9 Investigates exposed complaints about a Central Florida safehouse, making Florida the first state in the country to regulate those facilities.
“Because of your reporting, there really was just more of an awareness of the need for that oversight of adult safe homes, and so the process started really moving along,” advocate Tomas Lares said. Lares is part of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking’s Resources and Services Committee, which will help assemble those standards.