Nebraska bill to crack down on human trafficking advances

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Traffickers who sell women and children for sex in Nebraska could have their phones tapped by law enforcement and face prosecution years or even decades after their crimes under a bill advanced by lawmakers.

The Grand Island Area Coalition on Trafficking is celebrating the advancement. Member said it shows great encouragement for survivors.

Lawmakers gave the measure first-round approval Thursday on a 45-0 vote.

The bill would extend the statute of limitations for sex and labor trafficking of an adult from three to seven years. For cases involving minors, it would abolish the statute of limitations. Nebraska imposes statutes of limitations for all but a handful of major crimes such as murder, arson, treason and certain forms of sexual assault.

"And what this does is it allows survivors time to heal before they confront their traffickers. Which is great because they have a lot of trauma to unpack," STOP Fund Representative Susie Hageman said.

The bill by Sen. Julie Slama, of Peru, is part of a multi-year push to clamp down on human trafficking in the state.

"The bill also allows for child sex trafficking victims to be covered for services under the Department for Health and Human Services which is crucial so it supports survivors and it just puts more pressure on traffickers," Hageman said.