Stronger human trafficking penalties adopted

Lawmakers passed a bill May 16 that addresses the rise in human trafficking in the state.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist28' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks'>Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks</a>
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks

LB289, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, increases penalties for a number of crimes, including pandering and human trafficking for labor or sexual exploitation.

The penalties for pandering or trafficking of an adult increase from a Class III to a Class II felony, punishable by 1 to 50 years in prison.

The bill imposes even stronger penalties for sex trafficking offenses involving a minor. Previously a Class II felony, sex trafficking or solicitation of a minor is categorized as a Class IB felony, punishable by a minimum of 20 years in prison to life imprisonment.

The definition of sex trafficking also is updated to include solicitation.

Provisions of three additional bills dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence are included in LB289.

The first is LB191, originally introduced by Pansing Brooks, which prohibits the withdrawal of a petition for a protection order except upon order of the court. A victim of domestic abuse can file a petition and affidavit to renew a protection order up to 30 days before the expiration of the previous order to ensure there is no gap in protection. A renewed order will be effective for a period of one year, commencing on the first day following expiration of the previous order.

Provisions of LB178, originally introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, allow a victim of sexual assault to file for civil protection orders against the perpetrator. The order will prohibit a perpetrator from contacting or communicating with the victim.

Provisions of LB188, originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, allow for the parent of a child conceived as a result of a sexual assault to petition for termination of parental rights of the perpetrator.

The bill passed on a 48-0 vote.

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