The Assembly unanimously passed legislation Thursday meant to cut down on human trafficking in the hotel industry throughout the state.
AB 1788, co-authored by Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, would allow city and district attorneys to seek civil penalties on hotel and motel owners if supervisors knowingly or willfully ignored trafficking in their establishments without contacting law enforcement, a national trafficking hotline or a victims support group.
“Human trafficking is the fastest-growing crime in the United States, and it is happening in hotels and motels throughout all parts of California,” said Assemblymember Cunningham, whose district includes northern Santa Barbara County. “AB 1788 will give local prosecutors another tool to save trafficking victims and punish those who try to provide traffickers with a safe haven.”
The bill passed the Assembly 65-0.
Assemblymember Cunningham said he hoped to see the bill move through the Senate and get the governor’s signature so district and city attorneys can begin to utilize this to crack down on trafficking in “shady hotels and motels.”
“What we’ve seen is there’s a gap in enforcement between the federal and local levels,” Assemblymember Cunningham told the News-Press. “I think it’s going to be a great tool in the arsenal as we continue our fight against human trafficking.”
Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher praised Assemblymember Cunningham and Assemblymember Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, the joint author on the bill, for their work.
“Republicans are leading the way in fighting sex trafficking,” Assemblymember Gallagher said on social media.
The bill is supported by Crime Victims United, the Children’s Advocacy Institute, the California State Sheriff’s Association, the California District Attorneys’ Association, Concerned Women for America and more. It was tweaked from an earlier version to address concerns from the hotel industry and build a bigger support system, Assemblymember Cunningham said.
Assemblymember Cunningham is a former San Luis Obispo prosecutor.