Friday, March 1, 2024

Thimesch files bill to help combat human trafficking

State Rep. Kronda Thimesch, HD-65, this week filed a bill that aims to combat human trafficking in Texas.

House Bill 2134 would allow a political subdivision to implement certain restrictions for massage establishments, according to a news release from Thimesch’s office. The bill amends the state Occupations Code to provide more flexibility to cities and local law enforcement in their efforts to curtail and discourage criminal enterprise.

“Human trafficking is among the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world,” Thimesch said. “Texas consistently ranks second in the nation for the number of reported human trafficking cases, and illicit massage businesses are frequently a front for this horrific crime. The prostitution of minors, money laundering — these are all a blight on our state, often hiding in plain sight. This bill will give cities more tools to keep Texans safe.”

Current statute allows municipalities and counties to adopt regulations regarding sexually oriented businesses as they deem necessary to promote the public health, safety, or welfare of their communities. Reduction of human trafficking is one of Rep. Thimesch’s legislative priorities.

House Bill 2134 would expand current statute to allow such local entities to regulate more than just zoning and other existing local regulations, while still maintaining that these regulations are not more restrictive than those imposed on other health care professionals or establishments, according to the news release. The bill would allow a political subdivision to implement regulations that would restrict hours of operation for massage establishments. Additionally, the bill permits a political subdivision to impose restrictions on a massage establishment if the owner, or if a service provider within, has been arrested or convicted for certain prostitution or human trafficking-related offenses; for money laundering; or for engaging in organized criminal activity as defined by the Penal Code.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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