COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – With only a few weeks until he leaves office, outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, signed into law Thursday the last three bills of his four-year term. In his finishing flourish of turning legislation into law, Strickland offered a comment on only one of them, Senate Bill 235, which establishes human trafficking as a violation of law punishable by up to eight years in prison.
In a statement on the bill signings, Strickland said, “Establishing human trafficking as a second-degree felony offense in Ohio is an important step in taking on this horrific human rights violation. As public servants, we have a serious responsibility to help victims of this crime and condemn the act of human trafficking.”
The bill creates the offenses of “trafficking in persons” and “unlawful conduct with respect to documents,” and clarifies and strengthens penalties for kidnapping, abduction, and other related offenses.
Under a similar deadline to make way for Mike DeWine, the Republican who beat Cordray by fewer than 50,000 votes, to become Ohio’s top cop, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray let Ohioans know he too applauded the enactment of the human trafficking bill.
“Today’s signing is a huge step forward in the fight against human trafficking and marks the culmination of a year in which we have made substantial progress on this issue,” Cordray said in a media release.
A background footnote to S.B. 235 said Cordray convened the first meeting of the state’s Trafficking in Persons Study Commission in June 2009. Since then, his office said, the commission has worked to raise awareness of the statewide problem and made numerous recommendations to improve education, training of police officers and victim services.
Information provided by the Ohio AG on S.B. 235 said it also does the following:
- Aligns Ohio’s human trafficking laws with those of the federal government (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, 2000) and 44 other states.
- Defines human trafficking.
- Increases the penalty for compelling a minor to engage in sexual activity for hire (first degree felony if victim is under 16).
The other two bills Strickland signed were House Bill 330, permitting school districts to participate in Ohio Department of Transportation contracts for the purchase of machinery, materials, supplies, and other articles; and Senate Bill 51, which designates the last week of May as “Ohio Turfgrass Week” in order to increase awareness of the importance of turfgrass to the state’s economy and environment.
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