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Iowa Bill Sets New Penalty for Those Who Rent to Human Traffickers

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The Iowa House and the Senate have unanimously decided to provide prosecutors with yet another legal tool to combat trafficking in human beings. Sioux Rapids representative Megan Jones says she is targeting people who start businesses like nail and hair salons, spas, and massage parlors, as well as workers who are actually victims of human trafficking.

“This bill is a crime because your property has been knowingly used for human trafficking,” says Jones. “… A really interesting part of this bill, and I really appreciate that the proponents of the victims have brought this up, is that it offers restorative justice as a form of reparation.” Victims of human trafficking can avoid charges if they are forced to work for one of these companies. Johnston Senator Brad Zaun says the bill makes it harder to have an illegal spa or massage business using forced labor.

“We’re in the state of Iowa to have Interstate 80 and Interstate 35, which are big business for the state of Iowa,” says Zaun. “Unfortunately, it brings with it a lot of despicable people who abuse other people for human trafficking. That bill is really just limited to the landowners who own these businesses who know what is going on. “The bill was passed for the first time on March 8th. The Senate finally approved it this week. The bill also calls on the Iowa Public Safety Commissioner to establish a human trafficking task force to understand the scope of the problem in Iowa and identify services for victims.

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Robert Dunfee