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House passes Parnell-backed sex-trafficking bill

JUNEAU -- A bill that would strengthen penalties for people convicted of sex trafficking and remove the label of prostitute from victims of that crime has passed the House unanimously.

Under HB359, the crime of sex trafficking would be punished as a felony. While many of those crimes are already prosecuted with harsh penalties, Gov. Sean Parnell said he wanted to make sure prosecutors had the tools they needed to fight the problem.

In a statement, he called trafficking "a horrible crime that degrades dignity and violates the most basic human rights."

Current law labels victims as prostitutes, but the bill would write into law that they are victims.

Parnell proposed the bill in February. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

By AUSTIN BAIRD

Associated Press

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