Combatting human trafficking


by Toni-Anne Barry

These days, it seems like politicians cannot agree about anything. That’s because it’s convenient for the media to use a gridlock narrative as shorthand for the contrarian and obstinate behavior that defines how our elected representatives address a few big issues. However, a different, more nuanced picture emerges when one takes a closer look at the actual lawmaking process – the pursuit of positive change. Common Ground profiles two members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.

The Issue

Human trafficking is a heinous crime that too often goes unnoticed but affects communities across America. Whether it’s labor or sex trafficking, it’s a form of modern slavery that strips victims of their fundamental right to freedom. Unfortunately, traffickers take advantage of the anonymity and privacy provided by hotels to move and exploit victims. Hoteliers do not want their properties to be the site of these illicit enterprises or to profit in any way from these criminal acts. They actively support federal and state efforts to combat this scourge to keep their guests and communities safe.

Common Ground

Florida continues to have some of the highest documented rates of human trafficking in the country. State legislators understand that current laws aren’t doing enough to prevent these crimes and are making human trafficking prevention a legislative priority for 2019. State Sen. Lauren Book (D) introduced SB 540, legislation that requires hotel employees to complete human trafficking awareness training, establishes an organization to help victims of human trafficking, bolsters trafficking education for law enforcement officials, and creates a registry of solicitors, to the Florida Senate. In the House, state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R) is sponsoring an identical bill, HB 851. This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation provides necessary prevention measures and a concrete path forward that will help victims recover and hold both traffickers and solicitors accountable.

State Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL)

District: FL-32 (Broward County)

First Elected: 2016

Committees: Appropriations, Children, Families & Elders Affairs, Health Policy, Joint Legislative Budget Commission, Rules

“Florida is one of the hotbeds for human trafficking in the United States. We can and must do more.”

State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-FL)

District: FL-78 (Fort Myers, parts of Lee County)

First Elected: 2012

Committees: Business & Professions, Commerce, Health Market Reform, Judiciary, Ways & Means

“We can no longer pretend that we are immune to this issue; we must work together diligently to eliminate it.”

We’re on a mission to train as many people as we can to prevent human trafficking. To train you and your staff for FREE, visit Then, help us encourage more people to take the training by sending a picture of you and your staff to [email protected].


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