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Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill to Further Combat Human Trafficking – NBC 6 South Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday banning anyone under the age of 21 from working as strippers and enacting other laws to further combat human trafficking in the state.

DeSantis signed HB 7063 at a press conference at Granada Church in Coral Gables.

The law prohibits the employment of anyone under the age of 21 in adult entertainment establishments

The bill also extends the life of the Florida Department of Law's Statewide Human Trafficking Council and requires rest stops, emergency rooms, strip clubs, massage parlors, and other places where human trafficking may occur in Florida to post human trafficking awareness signs. Hotlines and increase penalties for companies that fail to do so.

It also requires an entity that contracts with the state government to provide state assurances that it will not use forced labor, prohibits minors from being employed in any capacity in adult entertainment establishments, and increases penalties for knowing violations.

The bill comes into force on July 1st.

“This legislation will help better protect the most vulnerable in our communities. It ensures that companies that knowingly or unknowingly fail to comply with these very modest, reasonable requirements are held accountable,” DeSantis said. “And of course, anyone who actively participates in human trafficking will be punished in the state of Florida.”

DeSantis also announced he would authorize $4.9 million in the state budget to expand access to emergency beds for people rescued from human trafficking and provide additional staff to strengthen human trafficking prevention efforts .

He also announced a $900,000 grant program to improve law enforcement staffing and training to combat human trafficking.

Earlier this month, DeSantis signed a bill that includes just over $1 million to combat sex trafficking in massage establishments.

The bill, HB 197, would fund eight full-time positions at the Florida Department of Health to investigate an expected increase in complaints about the companies.

The measure will also make it more common for the agency to revoke the licenses of massage therapists or massage establishments.

Last year, DeSantis signed a series of anti-human trafficking bills, including legislation that would increase penalties for those who exploit trafficking victims and set a mandatory minimum sentence if a trafficker fires a firearm.

Another law also allows victims of human trafficking to seek damages from adult entertainment establishments and requires hotels to comply with human trafficking awareness laws or be liable for thousands of dollars in fines each day.

Anna Harden

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