2019 Legislation: Human and Sexual Trafficking-Related Reforms

Commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution) and sex trafficking are inextricably linked. The bills below will help people in various fields – including health care, law enforcement, and education – better understand the warning signs of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. The bills will also take steps to prevent and reduce trafficking offenses and help victims.

HB 111 (Authors: Mary González, Meyer, Button | Sponsor: Fallon), Relating to public school policy and training for public school employees addressing the prevention of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of certain children. Prior to passage of this bill, each school district and open-enrollment charter school was required to adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children; that policy was established to address methods for increasing staff, student, and parent awareness of such issues, including prevention techniques and knowledge of likely warning signs indicating that a child may be a victim of such offenses. This bill states that the methods for increasing awareness must also include training on prevention and recognition of the sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children with significant cognitive disabilities. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

HB 292 (Authors: Senfronia Thompson, Landgraf, Calanni, Julie Johnson | Sponsor: Huffman), Relating to inclusion of instruction on the trafficking of persons in the basic training curriculum for peace officers. As part of their minimum curriculum requirements, peace officers must complete a one-time basic education and training program on human trafficking within two years of being licensed, unless an officer completed the program as part of the basic training course. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

HB 403 (Author: Senfronia Thompson | Sponsor: Huffman), Relating to training requirements for a member of the board of trustees and the superintendent of an independent school district regarding sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children. School Board members (trustees) must complete one hour of training every two years on identifying and reporting potential victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and abuse and neglect of children. Superintendents must complete two-and-a-half hours of such training every five years. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

HB 2059 (Author: Blanco | Sponsor: Taylor), Relating to required human trafficking prevention training as a condition of registration permit or license renewal for certain health care practitioners. Beginning in September 2020, health care practitioners – other than a physician or nurse (discussed below) – must successfully complete an approved training course on identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking. Such health care practitioners must also successfully complete a training course as a condition for renewal of a license.

A licensed physician who applies for renewal of a registration permit (on or after September 2020) and who designates a direct patient care practice must complete, as part of the required hours of continuing medical education, a human trafficking prevention course. Similarly, as part of a continuing competency program, a licensed nurse who provides direct patient care must complete a human trafficking prevention course; this applies to license renewals on or after September 2020. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

HB 3800 (Authors: Senfronia Thompson, Lopez, Collier | Sponsor: Huffman), Relating to required reporting of human trafficking cases by certain law enforcement entities and by prosecutors. Certain entities – including the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), as well as a municipal police departments, sheriff’s departments, constable’s offices, county attorney’s offices, district attorney’s offices, and criminal district attorney’s offices in counties with more than 50,000 people – that investigate the alleged commission of human trafficking or public indecency-related offenses that may involve human trafficking must submit certain information to the Attorney General (AG):

  • the offense being investigated, with a description of the prohibited conduct;
  • information on each person suspected of committing the offense and each victim (age, gender, and race/ethnicity), as well as the person suspected of committing the offense;
  • the date, time, and location of the alleged offense;
  • the type of human trafficking involved;
  • information regarding any victims’ service organization or program to which the victim was referred as part of the investigation (if available); and 
  • the disposition of the investigation.

The prosecutor must submit similar information to the AG, including the offense being prosecuted and its disposition, as well as any other charged offense that is part of the same criminal episode. The AG must enter into a contract with a university that provides for the university’s assistance in the collection and analysis of information received.

DPS and the other above-mentioned entities must comply with these provisions beginning in August 2020, except for entities located in counties with 500,000 or fewer people, which must comply beginning in August 2021. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

HCR 35 (Authors: Miller, Shaheen, Charles “Doc” Anderson | Sponsor: Huffman), Recognizing human trafficking as a public health issue. This resolution recognizes that there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking estimated in Texas, nearly 80,000 of whom are identified as minors, and that Texas has the second-highest number of human trafficking reports in the country. It emphasizes that human trafficking victims experience a severe and complex trauma that is one of the most challenging to effectively treat, requiring long-term counseling, therapy, and often inpatient treatment – which is complicated by the fact that relatively few facilities in Texas are trained in trauma-informed care; and that the sexual exploitation of women and children account for 84% of cases and cost the state an estimated $6.6 billion in additional physical and mental health care and social services – plus additional strain on health care and law enforcement systems. This resolution notes that human trafficking must be appropriately addressed so we can bring an end to the crime and help survivors move forward with their lives. Signed by the Governor

SB 72 (Author: Nelson | Sponsor: Guillen), Relating to the establishment and duties of the human trafficking prevention coordinating council. This bill requires the Attorney General (AG) to establish the Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinating Council, which will develop and implement a five-year strategic plan for preventing human trafficking, to be submitted every five years to the Legislature – with the first plan to be submitted by May 2020. The plan must include (1) an inventory of human trafficking prevention programs and services administered by state agencies and political subdivisions, including the number of people served by each, and how to coordinate them to eliminate redundancy, ensure the use of best practices, and collect data regarding efficacy, as well as (2) how to coordinate the expenditure of state funds allocated to prevent human trafficking.

Membership of the Coordinating Council is at least comprised of state leadership (including the Governor, the AG, and leadership of the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Department of Public Safety, or any of their designees) and state agencies (including representatives of the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation). Following the submission of the first five-year plan, the Council must annually report to the Legislature on the plan’s implementation, including coordination of programs and services, and an update on inventoried programs and services. The AG must make the plan and annual reports available online. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019

SB 1219 (Author: Alvarado | Sponsor: Senfronia Thompson), Relating to human trafficking signs at certain transportation hubs. By September 2020, the Attorney General (AG) must specify the design and content of a sign regarding services and assistance available to victims of human trafficking, to be displayed in English and Spanish at “transportation hubs” (defined as a bus, bus stop, train, train station, rest area, or airport). The sign must include the phone number and website for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and the key indicators that a person is a victim of human trafficking. The AG must also designate and enforce which hubs are required to post the sign, how the sign is displayed, and any exceptions to the sign-posting requirement. Signed by the Governor; effective on 9/1/2019