U.S. House passes anti-sex trafficking bill modeled after Minnesota law


The U.S. House has approved a bill written by Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen requiring states to treat minors involved in sex trafficking as victims rather than criminals.

The Star Tribune reports Paulsen's bill and a similar one written by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar are modeled on Minnesota's Safe Harbor Act.

In urging colleagues to pass the measure Paulsen argued that many sex trafficking victims are too young to vote, drive, or have earned a high school diploma. The House approved his bill on a voice vote.

It was part of a package of five bills aimed at attacking sex trafficking. The House passed all five Tuesday. The Hill reports the issue has been on Congress' agenda but recently gained new momentum following reports of girls being abducted by an extremist group in Nigeria.

MinnPost says a dozen states have laws similar to Minnesota's Safe Harbor Act.

Paulsen's bill, which is called the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2014, would require such legislation in every state within three years. It also would make victims eligible for the Job Corps program to help them find employment and avoid a return to the sex trade.

The Hill says the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry in the U.S. The Star Tribune notes there's been bipartisan support over the past year for a number of bills targeting it.

To some at the national level Minnesota seems too wholesome to be a poster child for sex trafficking. But USA Today last month noted an estimate that 200 adolescents per month are sold for sex in the state, which also had 400 trafficking convictions in 2011.

Last year prosecutors in St. Paul said a tip from the grandmother of a 15-year-old being recruited by traffickers led them to break up a large family-run prostitution ring.

The Hill reports that in a speech supporting Paulsen's bill Rep. Ted Poe of Texas observed: "There's no such thing as a child prostitute. Children cannot consent to sex."

Here's what Paulsen said on the House floor:

Next Up

Car crash

'Grim' milestone: Minnesota's traffic deaths reach 364, tying 2019 total

“With fewer vehicles on the road during the 2020 pandemic, the loss of life on Minnesota roads is beyond disappointing."

Devin Weiland

Charges: Albert Lea man, 21, fired around 90 shots at police, residents

Weiland was arrested after a standoff that lasted more than eight hours.

Body storage warehouse

Body storage warehouse 'ready if needed for COVID-19 fatality management'

The warehouse is currently storing PPE and testing supplies.


Signs come down at Giordano's restaurant in Uptown

It appears the restaurant has closed for good.

State Capitol.

Walz eyes COVID-19 relief package totaling $300-$600 million amid budget surplus

The state forecasted a budget surplus for the remainder of the biennium.

Bar beer

Walz non-committal on extension of restaurant, gym closures

He has suggested that the ban on mixing with people outside your household could continue over Christmas.

scratch lottery ticket

State lottery: Don't give scratch-offs as gifts to minors

The Minnesota Lottery participates in an annual responsible gambling campaign focusing on underage lottery play during the holidays.

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota adds 2 more qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

There will be 17 conditions that qualify people to obtain medical marijuana in Minnesota.

Matt Birk

Ex-Viking Matt Birk confirms interest in future run for governor

The next gubernatorial election in Minnesota is Nov. 8, 2022.

Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 10.59.59 AM

Handsome Hog in St. Paul to close temporarily

Executive chef Justin Sutherland cited inaction by state and federal leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.


MN radio host resigns after repeatedly body shaming Iowa female host

Aaron Imholte is now broadcasting the show from an online platform.