Wheeler, Jesiel Up the Ante in Fight against Human Trafficking

In January of 2016, an important new law to fight human trafficking took effect in Illinois, the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act. This law (Public Act 99-0099), which State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) carried through the Illinois General Assembly, utilizes the business community to ensure human trafficking victims have access to essential services. 

“Human trafficking is a much more pervasive practice than many of us realize and it is essential that we increase awareness and engage the public to fight this form of modern day slavery,” said Wheeler. “The Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act makes information about a very important resource available to victims and witnesses, which has taken us another step closer to ending this horrific practice.” 

The Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act provides that specified businesses and establishments conspicuously provide information concerning the availability of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The law not only helps victims of this heinous crime gain access to the resources they need to overcome the trauma they have experienced, but also acts an avenue for anyone who observes or suspects trafficking the ability to report it to the proper authorities. 

To improve the scope and effectiveness of the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act, Wheeler engaged another advocate in the fight against human trafficking, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor). Working across party lines, Wheeler and Jesiel were able to engage additional advocates and unanimously pass House Bill 4340 through the Illinois House of Representatives. 

“As Representative Wheeler referenced, human trafficking is a surprisingly prevalent crime, even in suburban communities, and so often goes undetected,” said Jesiel. “This is why we have been studying methods to more effectively curb its impact. House Bill 4340 is an important step to help us accomplish this goal.” 

Under the original Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act, the following types of businesses must publicly post information about the NHTRC: 

  • Adult entertainment facilities 
  • Liquor stores and bars 
  • Primary airports 
  • Intercity passenger or light train stations 
  • Bus stations 
  • Truck stops 
  • Emergency rooms 
  • Urgent care centers 
  • Farm labor contractors 
  • Privately-operated job recruitment centers 
To further improve the effectiveness of the act, House Bill 4340 makes two primary enhancements; it adds additional at risk locations to the posting rule and empowers local law enforcement to ensure the act is being followed. Now, specified massage establishments, public and private schools, tattoo and piercing establishments, and large public events that require permitting will need to post information about the NHTRC. In addition, by shifting the monitoring of compliance to local law enforcement, it will close a gap which hindered the effectiveness of the current law. 

“We are confident these improvements to the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act will further increase its effectiveness and we hope it receives the same unanimous support in the Senate,” said Wheeler. 

Since the NHTRC began offering its services in December of 2007, more than 175,000 potential instances of human trafficking have been reported, leading to over 40,000 cases, saving thousands from the emotional and physical torment of this practice. The vast majority of the tips the NHTRC has received came not from victims, but by concerned members of the community, which is why making information about the NHTRC more readily available to the public is so important. 

For more about HB 4340 and the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act, Click Here.

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