Calif. lawmakers declare human trafficking of minors not “serious felony”

The death of a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) was assailed by crime victims and supportive lawmakers.

A bipartisan effort to classify human trafficking of minors for the purposes of a commercial sex act as a serious felony was killed by Democrats in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. 

This is the second year in a row where Sen. Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) leaves empty handed in her attempt to clamp down on human trafficking in California. 


The backstory: Last year, Grove introduced a similar bill that would have classified human trafficking of all ages to the list of serious and violent felonies but was halted by the Senate Public Safety Committee. 

  • Grove introduced her modified bill this year along with Sen. Anna Caballero (D–Merced) and Sen. Susan Rubio (D–Baldwin Park). 
  • Along with her two Democratic colleagues, Grove also had 30 other Republicans and Democrats in both houses sign on as coauthors to Senate Bill 14 – a rare coalition of bipartisan support in the California Legislature. 

Driving the news: While human trafficking of a minor for purposes of commercial sex is already punishable by up to 12 years in prison – and 15 years if the crime involves force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or the threat of injury – SB 14 would have also made the crime a strike under the Three Strikes law. 

The big picture: The Senate had already passed SB 14 in May with unanimous support, yet the Assembly Public Safety Committee only produced one yes vote from Asm. Tom Lackey (R – Palmdale). Asm. Juan Alanis (R–Modesto), the only other Republican on the committee, was not present for the vote. 

  • The six Democrats on the committee abstained from voting. 
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