Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Act – sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford
Georgia legislators, led by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, are seeking to tighten Georgia’s existing sex trafficking laws. The combination of Senate Bill (SB) 8 and Senate Resolution (SR) 7 would help create a new Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund, using new $2,500 fines on convicted traffickers and an annual $5,000 fee on adult entertainment establishments to raise money for the fund. Explaining the purpose for charging adult entertainment establishments an annual fee to raise money for this fund, SB 8 says:
“The General Assembly finds that it is necessary and appropriate to adopt uniform and reasonable fees and regulations to help address the deleterious secondary effects, including but not limited to, prostitution and sexual exploitation of children, associated with adult entertainment establishments…The General Assembly finds that a correlation exists between adult live entertainment establishments and the sexual exploitation of children. The General Assembly finds that adult live entertainment establishments present a point of access for children to come into contact with individuals seeking to sexually exploit children. The General Assembly further finds that individuals seeking to exploit children utilize adult live entertainment establishments as a means of locating children for the purpose of sexual exploitation.”
SB 8 sets out the framework of the proposal while SR 7 seeks amendment to the Georgia Constitution by asking Georgians for permission to create the new fund. A governor-appointed commission would manage this fund and the effort. The money would be used to pay for physical and mental health care, housing, education, job training, child care, legal help and other services for sexually exploited victims.
In addition to the new fines, the Bill would require convicted traffickers be listed on the state sex offender registry – something which surprisingly doesn’t happen now.
Legislators are working together to merge Unterman’s version of the proposal with a similar House version, House Bill (HB) 244, with hopes to assure final passage. The Bill passed through the Senate on a 52-3 vote, and is now working its way through the House Committee for Juvenile Justice.