A local lawmaker is working to strengthen existing state laws designed to combat human trafficking.

Republican Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township sponsored Senate Bill 773, which would require anyone obtaining or renewing a commercial driver’s license to complete training on the recognition, prevention and reporting of human trafficking. It’s part of a four-bill, bi-partisan package that would require certain professions in the state to obtain regular training on how to identify and report potential trafficking incidences. Other measures would require school teachers and counselors to receive similar training twice per year and require the state’s Human Trafficking Commission to develop recommendations on the minimum standards for any training programs on human trafficking. Additionally, Senate Resolution 98 urges banks and credit unions in the state to display a universal human trafficking notification that includes warning signs and the 24/7 national hotline to report suspected trafficking.

Theis said the state has made great progress to reduce human trafficking but Michigan is still ranked 10th in the nation. While there have been improvements, she says more must be done to eliminate this modern form of slavery from the state and nation. Theis commented that predators often exploit the transportation system to move their victims across the country and truck drivers can play a significant role in the fight against human trafficking – adding they have the advantage when it comes to spotting signs and making reports. Senate Bills 772-775 and Senate Resolution 98 were referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for consideration.

According to the Polaris Project, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center receives the most human trafficking-related calls from Michigan from the cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Mackinac Island. To contact the 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888, send a text message to 233733, or visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. That link is provided. (JM)