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Legislation to combat human trafficking in Pennsylvania passes House

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Some lawmakers are raising awareness and fighting back against human trafficking in Pennsylvania. State Representatives passed a package...

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Some lawmakers are raising awareness and fighting back against human trafficking in Pennsylvania. State Representatives passed a package of bills to address human trafficking in the state.

It was a sea of blue at the state capitol. State lawmakers sporting the color to bring awareness to human trafficking.

"Whether we want to think about it or not," said House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, (R) Lancaster County. "It is happening right here in Pennsylvania."

In November, two men from New Jersey were convicted on charges of human trafficking in and around Lancaster and York Counties. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the country in 2019 for the most reported human trafficking cases, with 126 reported.

YWCA of Greater Harrisburg CEO Mary Quinn says, they help about 60 victims a year.

"It is not how we see it in Hollywood, where someone is just snatched off the street," said Quinn. "It's happening with individuals who already have some sort of history with drug abuse, or domestic violence, or perhaps their immigration status is not official. "

The package of bills will increase penalties for anyone connected to human trafficking, while also increasing resources and protections available to victims.

"Hopefully what people see is there is strength in leadership," said Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania's victim advocate. "But hope that there is healing and there is hope."

One of these bills will designate January as National Human Trafficking Awareness month in Pennsylvania.