Three measures that would toughen Oklahoma’s human trafficking laws passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives first week.


Senate Bill 1538, sponsored by state Rep. Sally Kern, would provide that a civil action brought in a human trafficking case may be instituted in the district court in the county in which the prospective defendant resides or has committed any act which subjects him or her to liability. The measure also provides that the statute of limitations shall not commence until the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that he or she was a victim of human trafficking and that the defendant caused, was responsible for or profited from the human trafficking.


“This bill will help the victims of human trafficking by providing needed assistance in the legal realm as victims seek restitution through the courts,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “The measure also modifies when the cause of action can commence to when the plaintiff discovers they were a victim of human trafficking. Too often those who are victimized do not realize for some time that others are profiting from the sexual exploitation they are forced to endure.”


Senate Bill 1431, sponsored by state Rep. Pam Peterson, would ensure that the provisions of the Sex Offender Registration Act apply to people convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.


Senate Bill 1433, also sponsored by Peterson, would add human trafficking to the list of crimes requiring those convicted to serve 85 percent of their time before becoming eligible for parole.


“These ideas came from a recent Nevada human trafficking law that went into effect last year,” said Peterson, R-Tulsa. “It’s important to improve our laws and toughen our penalties to discourage these heinous crimes and better protect our most vulnerable citizens.”


Senate Bill 1538 passed out of the House by a vote of 89-0 and now returns to the Senate for consideration of House amendments. Senate Bill 1431 passed out of the House by a vote of 85-0 and Senate Bill 1433 passed out of the House by a vote of 90-0. Both measures now return to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.