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Pennsylvania’s Anti-Human Trafficking Bills

Pennsylvania’s Anti-Human Trafficking Bills

Last updated: 11.7.23

Take a look at our recently updated list of Pennsylvania’s anti-human trafficking bills. Greenlight Operation takes a holistic approach to end human trafficking. This involves collaborating with lawmakers to implement new laws and amending old ones to better prevent cases of human trafficking, to intervene in current cases, and assist with restoration.

Knowing what is being proposed and then connecting with legislators to encourage them to take action in the fight against human trafficking is crucial. Not sure who your lawmakers are?  You can use this resource to find them.

Below are the anti-human trafficking bills that have been proposed in Pennsylvania as of November 7, 2023.

Senate Bill 88 (Sen. Katie Muth) – Expanding victim relief from a criminal record

Victims often incur criminal charges such as solicitation, drug possession, or theft as a result of their trafficking. Currently, they can request the courts to “vacate” (rescind) just six crimes from their criminal records. As a result, many individuals suffer employment, housing, and domestic discrimination in addition to their exploitation – derailing their attempts at freedom and restoration.    

  • Bill Summary: Expands vacatur eligible crimes to include theft and contempt charges and streamlines victim relief by no longer requiring the District Attorney to approve a trafficking-based vacatur motion.   
  • Status: Awaiting Senate Judiciary Committee approval before moving to the full Senate and House.


House Bill 394 (Rep. Rob Kauffman) – Improving victims’ ability to sue their offenders

State law allows individuals to sue any person who participates in his or her human trafficking, including those who recruit, abuse, and profit from victims. Sometimes these cases can be filed in the county where the victim resides, other times they must be filed where the violation occurred. This administrative complication decreases accountability against perpetrators and justice for victims.

  • Bill Summary: Streamlines human trafficking lawsuits by allowing victims to file either where they live or where the violations occurred. 
  • Bill Status: Passed the House June 6, 2023 and awaits Senate Judiciary Committee approval before moving to the full Senate. 


House Bill 93 (Rep. Robert Leadbeter)– Preventing human trafficking in higher education

Exploitation underpins all human trafficking – in particular, exploitation from someone in a trusted position, such as parents, employers, coaches, and romantic partners. Many victims fail to recognize their trafficking by trusted adults and never seek support. Young people entering adulthood remain at-risk and ill-equipped to spot warning signs and prevent victimization.

  • Bill Summary: Directs Pennsylvania public universities to offer students an in-depth prevention and education series on trafficking and exploitation. The programs, provided in partnership with nonprofit organizations, will be provided at no cost to the universities and students. 
  • Bill Status: Awaiting House Education Committee approval before moving to the full House and Senate.


Senate Bill 515 (Sen. Michelle Brooks) – Enhancing reporting of crimes against children 

Currently, health care centers must notify child protective services or law enforcement when children are provided services for STDs, pregnancy, abortions, or contraception. This is intended to flag suspected sexual abuse or exploitation. Without proper compliance reviews that such notifications occur, many children may miss this opportunity for protection.

  • Bill Summary: Requires Department of Health records inspections to ensure health centers notify child protective services or law enforcement if providing contraceptive, STD, pregnancy, or abortion services to children. The reform further outlines forensic evidence procedures, civil cause of action for parents, and penalties for inspection violations to incentivize identification of child victimization.  
  • Bill Status: Awaiting Senate Health and Human Services Committee approval before moving to the full Senate and House.


House Bill 256 (Rep. Rob Merski) – Increasing notification of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center

Since its creation in 2007, calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) have helped identify over 160,000 trafficking victims. Ensuring more people have access to the hotline is a simple, vital step in fighting exploitation and helping more victims access freedom and restoration.

  • Bill Summary: Expands access to NHTH information by requiring posting in all public restrooms.
  • Bill Status: Awaiting approval from the House Labor and Industry Committee before moving to the full House and Senate. 


Similarly, Senate Bill 45 (Sen. Maria Collett) will increase access to crucial human trafficking resources by requiring NHTH signage in all restroom stalls, on all mirrors, and by hand dryers and paper towels dispensers. 

  • Bill Status: Passed the Senate June 29, 2023 and awaits House Judiciary Committee approval before moving to the full House and Senate again. 


Senate Bill 44 (Sen. Cris Dush) – Increasing access to services and accountability for child trafficking victims

Child sex trafficking victims are often unwilling to identify their trafficker for various reasons, from trauma to fear to lack of appropriate language. Yet, under current Pennsylvania law, a minor who is exploited for commercial sex must identify their abuser to be considered a trafficking victim and receive justice.

  • Bill Summary: Removes the requirement that a child victim identify a third party trafficker in order to prosecute their human trafficking cases.
  • Bill Status: Passed the Senate on June 29, 2023 and awaits House Judiciary Committee approval before moving to the full House. 


House Bill 1241 (Rep. Joe Webster) – Regulating illicit massage businesses

Currently, Pennsylvania has no laws, beyond standard labor law regulation, to prevent massage businesses from exploiting workers. Massage businesses can simply register with the Department of State as any new business would, obscuring illicit activities forced upon workers.

  • Bill Summary: Requires a valid facility license, manager’s license, and table shower license and imposes license suspension/revocation and fines if the business fraudulently or deceitfully obtains a license. Additionally, the bill grants state inspectors and law enforcement officials increased access to review facilities and enables the Department of Victim Services to improve services for victims. 
  • Bill Status: Awaiting approval from the House Professional Licensure Committee before it can move to the full House and Senate. 


Senate Bill 890 (Sen. Cris Dush) – Expanding court protections for human trafficking victims

Current state law grants human trafficking victims “affirmative defense” to void prostitution charges if they were coerced into engaging in such activities. Yet, additional non-prostitution charges can still be levied against victims. 

  • Bill Summary: Expands affirmative defense so that victims cannot be charged for any offense resulting from their trafficking. This would further apply regardless of whether traffickers or buyers are convicted. 
  • Bill Status: Awaiting Senate Judiciary Committee approval before moving to the full House and Senate.

Senate Bill 670 (Sen. Vincent Hughes) – Creating the Survivor-centered, Accessible, Fair and Empowering (SAFE) Housing Trust Fund

Victims of abuse and trafficking face economic, employment, child care, and housing barriers, which increase the chances they will return to their abuse and exploitation. 

  • Bill Summary: Establishes the SAFE Housing Trust Fund to increase housing funding for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, human trafficking, and stalking.
  • Bill Status: Awaiting approval from the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing before moving to the full House and Senate.


House Bill 1059 (Rep. Sheryl Delozier) – Updating the Child Protective Services Law to include sexual exploitation

Children who encounter the child protection system endure compounding trauma that makes them highly susceptible to human trafficking. The current child protection law fails to properly identify and address this risk and best prevent the pervasive re-victimization of Pennsylvania’s vulnerable children.

  • Bill Summary: Amends the definition of “sexual abuse or exploitation” in the Child Protective Services Law to include the offenses of trafficking in minors and involuntary sexual servitude.
  • Bill Status: Awaiting approval in the House Children and Youth Committee before moving to the full House and Senate. 


House Bill 1782 (Rep. Kate Klunk) – Updating state law to recognize child sexual abuse material

The Task Force on Child Pornography recently identified deficiencies in Pennsylvania’s investigations and prosecutions of child sexual abuse. To better protect children, the task force recommended replacing “child pornography” with the more commonly understood “child sexual abuse material.”

  • Bill Summary: Amends the crimes code to replace “child pornography”  with “child sexual abuse material” to more accurately describe the severity of the crime.
  • Bill Status: Awaiting approval from the House Judiciary Committee before moving to the full House and Senate.

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