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This is my first year to have an intern working under my supervision, but for me to refer to Jessica Franco as “My” millennial may be over the top. Over the three months of the legislative session, we will be working together toward mutually beneficial goals. Hopefully Jessica will gain a good understanding of the work, challenges and stresses associated with the Legislature. This week I have suggested she author this Times-News column. This is something new for her, but it will allow her to share her passion to curb further human trafficking. Magic Valley, meet Jessica Franco:

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In the Treasure Valley in 2017, there were over 3,000 cases of online trafficking. This number of trafficked individuals in Idaho is unacceptable. Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, noticed that and has put two bills in motion to tackle this issue. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines human trafficking as “human beings that are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.”

Usually victims are trafficked to be used for forced labor, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking victims have their basic human rights taken away from them — the right of freedom from slavery. They no longer can decide their future or live their life freely with their own will. Instead, they are held captive and forced to work unwanted jobs. These people are no longer free. America is the land of the free where citizens should be able to live their American dream without fear of slavery. Except there are people in this world that will take away these dreams and trap citizens into modern day slavery.

The two bills Rep. Brent Crane is trying to pass will help reduce human trafficking and prostitution. The first bill, H0376, will change a current law’s wording from, “any person who imports persons into this state, or who exports persons from this state” to “any person who imports another person into this state or who exports another person from this state”. The change in wording from persons to person in the current law helps define human trafficking. Human trafficking is not limited to a trafficker who sells many victims but can also be a trafficker who sells a single victim. The change of wording in this law should help stop many traffickers who traffic single individuals and not just multiple individuals. There should be no concern of this bill costing taxpayers since there is no fiscal impact to changing wording in Idaho code.

The second bill, H0377, will change the law so that soliciting a prostitute is a felony. The old law is soliciting a prostitute would be considered a misdemeanor for the first and second charge and a felony for the third. With a higher punishment at stake, there should be less incentive to solicit a prostitute. This harsher punishment should bring to light that soliciting a prostitute is wrong and should not happen here. Now there will be no exception the first or second time a person patronizes a prostitute as it will be a felony from the very first offence. This shows how serious we are on dealing with human trafficking.

The reduction of human trafficking is a passion of mine that I am excited to see come to pass. I live in a generation that has awareness, technology and drive that if we work together we can reduce the suffering that fellow citizens are objected to. Be aware in your community and what is around you. If you see something suspicious, please report it. I will be following these bills to the end to make sure Idaho supports freedom and the reduction of human trafficking.

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Jessica Franco is a Boise State University graduate in political science interning with Rep. Lance Clow of District 24.

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