Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Stepping up efforts to help victims

By Kevin Kinney

Iowa’s interstate highways are prime routes for human traffickers transporting victims, who are often forced into sex work or other forms of slavery. Many traffickers are parents or family members who sell their children and vulnerable relatives.
Coordinated efforts of local, state and federal officers have rescued some victims, but human trafficking remains a largely hidden crime that goes unnoticed by most Iowans. To step up the fight, this year’s Justice System Budget (SF 497):
• Requires the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office to develop and conduct outreach, public awareness and training programs about human trafficking and allows them to use money from the  Victim Compensation Fund to help pay for the efforts. Teaching Iowans to recognize human trafficking and its victims will help law enforcement in their rescue efforts.
• Provides funding to the Department of Public Safety to hire staff to focus on anti-human trafficking efforts.  
• Provides for funding for overtime for local law enforcement officers who participate in coordinated anti-human trafficking efforts. At times, these efforts can take a full two days, requiring peace officers to be on duty for extended periods. The funding will also be used to help train law enforcement regarding human trafficking victims.
Funding in this year’s Administration & Regulation Budget (SF 498) provides enough money to start a new address confidentiality program to protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, human trafficking and stalking. The “Safe at Home” program was established in HF 585, which was approved unanimously by the Legislature and has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
To ensure victims are “Safe at Home” from their abusers, the Secretary of State’s office will establish a U.S. Post Office box for those who participate in the program. The Secretary of State will receive the participant’s mail and forward it to their P.O. box. This program also allows the participant to sign up as a permanent absentee ballot voter by using their confidential address.

Additional information
This is a legislative update from State Senator Kevin Kinney, representing Keokuk, Washington and Johnson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/kinney.
To contact Senator Kinney when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise, he can be reached at 319-631-4667. E-mail him at kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov.
Senator Kinney is vice chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Education, Government Oversight, Judiciary, and Natural Resources & Environment committees.