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Governor signs Swanson’s human trafficking bills

California taxpayers can choose to contribute to the state’s new Child Victims of Human Trafficking Fund which gives money to community-based organizations, under an East Bay lawmaker’s bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Californians already can make contributions to a variety of organizations listed on their personal income tax forms; AB 764 by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, adds to that list community-based organizations that protect sexually exploited minors.

“Countless organizations throughout the state provide vital support services to child victims of sexual exploitation,” Swanson said in a news release. “Our state lacks a consistent process through which appropriate victim services can be provided to thousands of children who are struggling out on the street. With the Governor’s signature on this bill, our state can begin plucking these young girls from the eye of a hurricane and plant them in safe environments where they can be what they are: children.”

AB 764 enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support: The Assembly approved it on a 74-2 vote in June; the state Senate approved it 37-1 in August; and the Assembly voted 79-0 in August to concur in the state Senate’s amendments.

Brown also on Tuesday signed Swanson’s AB 90, which tightens state law’s language on criminal profiteering in child prostitution. Federal law clearly states prosecutors need not prove force or coercion when a trafficking victim is younger than 18, but state law was vague, requiring a showing of force even as it said it intended to conform with federal law. AB 90 changes the state’s standard of proof to require only a showing that the defendant “caused, induced, encouraged or persuaded the victim,” and also lets prosecutors implement already-existing fines and forfeiture provisions. The Assembly and state Senate approved this bill on unanimous votes.

Swanson has authored several other bills in recent years dealing with human trafficking. Most recently, Brown in June signed into law Swanson’s AB 12, which boosted fines against “johns” who pay for sex with minors and required that the money be directed to groups providing therapy, housing, shelter, and education to child victims of sex trafficking.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    It’s about time. Alameda county is No. 1 in child trafficking.