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NC General Assembly Passes Human Trafficking Bill

In a series of unanimous votes over the past few weeks, House Bill 971—Human Trafficking Changes, passed both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. HB 971 was one of a flurry of bills that the legislature considered prior to taking their 2024 Independence Day holiday break. The new statutes created by this bill are important and timely as news outlets are citing that the national incidents of reported human trafficking almost doubled between 2011-2021. Sadly, North Carolina ranks ninth in the United States for the number of reported cases of human trafficking.

The new statutes address several aspects of this growing problem. The NC Department of Labor (NCDOL) must “develop a training course, or identify existing training courses, to inform and educate individuals about human trafficking.” Completion of the program will be a biennial requirement for employees of lodging establishments, third-party contractors, accommodation facilitators, and property managers of vacation rentals, who perform housekeeping services, provide food or beverage services, and those who perform check-in or check-out duties. The goal of this training is to help employees recognize the victims and perpetrators of human trafficking so that the victims can be rescued and the perpetrators caught. Any lodging establishment, third-party contractor, or property manager who willingly and knowingly violates the training requirement may be fined by the NCDOL.

The responsible parties must also implement procedures for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, or to a local law enforcement agency. In addition to mandatory human trafficking training for those in the accommodations industry, HB 971 also:

  • Increases the penalties for solicitation of prostitution;
  • Creates penalties for the unlawful disclosure of a victim’s confidentiality;
  • Requires the disclosure of certain criminal history in child custody pleadings;
  • Prohibits the viewing of pornography on government networks and devices;
  • Expands human trafficking training and guidance to county child welfare staff, county social services attorneys, county social services directors, and all social services staff; and
  • Allows college campus police, under certain circumstances, to access the Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data System.

It is our hope and prayer that the new statutes created by the passage of HB 971 will be a step towards ending the inhumane practice of human trafficking.H


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