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Wisconsin Gov. Evers signs La Crosse Rep. Billings’ bill combatting human trafficking



FILE - La Crosse Assembly Rep. Jill Billings (podium) speaks at a signing session by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (left) at La Crosse Fire Station No. 2 on March 26, 2024.

La Crosse Assembly Rep. Jill Billings saw a decade’s worth of work get some payoff Wednesday, when Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed her bill that deals with child victims of human trafficking into law.

Billings, a Democrat, in a statement, said the bill (AB 976) “will help protect child victims and witnesses of human trafficking during trafficking prosecutions.”

It was one of 29 crime-related bills Evers signed Wednesday, many of which stem from a legislative task force that studied human trafficking.

“I have spent over a decade working on legislation to combat trafficking and help victims, including Safe Harbor,” Billings continued. “The Task Force held hearings where my colleagues and I heard about how difficult it can be for survivors to testify against their traffickers, and it is even more distressing for children.

“By allowing more children to testify remotely so they can provide their clear testimony to the court without experiencing the distress of the presence of the defendant both protects victims and advances the interests of justice.”

Billings added that more work needs to be done, but that work will have to wait until after the November elections, because the state Legislature adjourned from session for the rest of 2024.

“I hope that this will be a first step toward eradicating human trafficking in Wisconsin,” Billings added. “When the legislature reconvenes next legislative session, we have a responsibility to take more action to enact policies that will help survivors rebuild their lives and stop traffickers from operating in our state.”

Other bills dealing with human trafficking signed by Evers included one that creates a human trafficking council starting in July 2025 at the state Department of Justice. It is charged with collecting and maintaining information and data about human trafficking, developing model training and creating a state strategic plan to prevent human trafficking.

Another bill requires training in identifying and preventing human trafficking for employees who are likely to have contact with the public and vulnerable people. That includes private security officers, public transit managers, hotel and motel owners and those who own and manage strip clubs.

Expanding training to identify human trafficking “will be a critical tool in our efforts to intervene and prevent human trafficking crimes,” Evers said in a statement.

Evers also signed into law a measure that makes $10 million available in grants for services that support crime victims, including sexual assault and domestic violence abuse survivors. Another bipartisan bill Evers signed will ensure full staffing of an office that assists schools with addressing safety concerns.

The new law would use state money to replace federal pandemic relief funds to fund about 14 positions in the state Department of Justice’s Office of School Safety for nine months.

Other bills Evers signed will increase the penalty for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer; create a new crime for possessing child sexual abuse material created with Artificial Intelligence technology and create a new crime for possessing sex dolls intended to resemble minors.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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  1. Greg Symons

    March 28, 2024 at 5:43 am

    Now, if we could only secure the border we would really put a dent in human trafficking.

    • John Q Public

      March 28, 2024 at 7:14 am

      I’m surprised the democrats would support a bill that does away with their kickback money from the cartels

  2. nick

    March 28, 2024 at 7:04 am

    Does Brad Pfaff spend all his time making sure he does not miss a photo op?
    Where was our mayor? He doesn’t miss many either?

    • Mitey Mite

      March 28, 2024 at 9:35 am

      Apparently its a full time job having your picture taken so often. We should take up a collection to buy him a 2nd tie as the one he has is getting a bit shabby looking.

  3. Walden

    March 28, 2024 at 9:33 am

    So the Dems enable, no encourage, mass human trafficking at our borders and then put lipstick on the pig by trying to take credit for putting a band-aid on the damage they have caused.

    Democrats own the current mess.

    WIZM minions at work.

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