House File 630 passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday by a unanimous 49-0 vote. The bill strengthens penalties against human trafficking in Iowa. Representative Mark Thompson sponsored the original bill in the House, along with 18 other House Republicans.
Republican Sen. Brad Zaun, who managed the bill, said it is an issue legislators have been working on for many years.
“This bill is very important,” he said. “It seems like most all of the parties have agreed to what we’re trying to do here.”
Zaun said the bill makes it clear that anyone engaging in human trafficking in Iowa will pay the price, especially if children are involved.
The penalty for human trafficking is increased from a Class D felony to a Class B felony, and from a Class C felony to a Class A felony if the victim is under 18 for the following instances:
*knowingly engaging in human trafficking;
*knowingly engaging in human trafficking by physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain another person;
*knowingly engaging in human trafficking by soliciting services or benefitting from the services of a victim;
*knowingly engaging in human trafficking by abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process;
*knowingly engaging in human trafficking by knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported government identification of another person;
*benefitting financially or receiving anything of value from knowingly participating in human trafficking.
The penalty is also bumped up from a Class C felony and a Class B felony if the victim is under 18 to a Class A felony for knowingly engaging in human trafficking by causing or threatening to cause serious physical injury to another person.
The bill also provides a person convicted of human trafficking is not eligible for a deferred judgment or a deferred or suspended sentence.