In the final moments before the legislative session closed in Des Moines Friday, lawmakers passed a bill designating nearly $1 million to help stop human trafficking in Iowa.
“It was people’s voices that made the difference,” commented Chuck Hurley, vice president of The FAMiLY LEADER and one of the measure’s most ardent supporters at the Iowa Capitol. “You were relentless in calling and emailing lawmakers, not letting this issue slip from the forefront of their minds. In the end, they couldn’t ‘go to bed’ until this task was done. And that’s because of you.”
Hurley called the bill a “huge and unprecedented” blow against an evil industry that has stolen, drugged, and enslaved Iowa girls and boys.
If signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad, the bill will designate funds to train law enforcement officers and many others to combat human trafficking at three levels:
- The first, “front line” of defense will train local, county, and state personnel on how to identify the signs of human trafficking crimes in their daily work
- The second level will train officers how to process human trafficking incidents, so victims can be rescued from their captors and protected long-term against those who would re-terrorize or enslave them
- The third level of training teaches law enforcement how to go after the “kingpins,” to turn local arrests into evidence that can take down not only the kidnappers and pimps, but also the cartels funding and fueling the human trafficking industry.
“We now have one fist to smash human traffickers,” Hurley said. “That’s a huge deal. A second ‘fist’ is still needed next year in the form of additional investigators and other operational costs, which was not quite possible in this budget year. Nonetheless, this is a huge victory.”
For Hurley, it’s also a personal victory.
“I became a foster parent about 30 years ago. I care deeply about kids and rescuing those in danger,” he said. “But for too long, we’ve been cleaning up after the crime instead of stopping it cold. This funding will help us go after the crime leaders, to eventually cut off the flow – to send a clear message to those who would victimize our children: ‘You’re not welcome in Iowa.'”
In addition to thanking you, the people of Iowa, for joining us in the fight against human trafficking, The FAMiLY LEADER would like to thank several others who were key in developing this legislation:
- The FAMiLY LEADER Capitol Team: Chuck Hurley, Danny Carroll, and Tamara Scott
- Teresa Downing-Matibag, Ph.D., executive director of Network Against Human Trafficking
- Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Monticello
- Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs
- Iowa State Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars
- Iowa State Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville
- Iowa State Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, a former deputy sheriff with experience working on sex trafficking cases
- Mike Ferjak of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office
- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
Several other legislators, activists, and organizations also contributed to this effort. With their help – and yours – Iowa will soon be a safer place for our children.