A while back, we covered a press conference in which State Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and State Rep. Ross Spano (R-Sarasota) touted the overwhelming passage of bills aimed at curbing human trafficking.
It was one of the few notable (positive) accomplishments to come out of the 2015 regular legislative session before all hell broke loose over Medicaid/low income pool money.
And it was about time lawmakers acknowledge that buying and selling people, as well as holding them against their will for purposes of exploitation, is wrong.
“This is important for the state of Florida. Florida is a beautiful state,” Brook Bello, founder of the anti-human trafficking nonprofit More Too Life, said at the time. “But it's also a destination for would-be predators and violators of all forms of human trafficking.”
All they needed were the governor's signature, and although Scott (like probably any other governor) is known for wielding his veto pen in a way that helps his allies and screws those who cross him, the bills' backers were optimistic.
“I certainly expect that the governor will sign it,” Latvala, one of the bill's Senate sponsors, said at the time. “It passed, unanimously, I think, in both houses. Usually that's a good sign that a bill's going to go all the way through.”
After more than two months, Governor Rick Scott finally signed the bills
But it sure took a while, and for a while we were worried it wouldn't see the light of day.
“While Florida has a 44-year crime low, even one victim of abuse is too many,” Scott said thursday at an event in South Florida.
The new laws create harsher penalties for those convicted of human trafficking while spreading awareness of the practice via signage to be displayed in areas through which victims are likely to pass, such as emergency rooms and truck stops.