Governor Kristi Noem is half right when she tweets about South Dakota’s diligent fight against human trafficking:
For purposes of this section and § 22-49-3, the term, coercion, may include:
- The use of a plan, statement, or pattern of behavior, with the intent of causing a person to believe that failure to perform an act will result in the use of physical force or violence against the person or will result in the person’s restraint, isolation, confinement, or abduction;
- Inducing a person to provide commercial sexual activity as payment toward or in satisfaction of a real or purported debt; and
- The use of a person’s physical or mental impairment, if that impairment has a substantial adverse effect on the person’s cognitive or volitional function [excerpt from SDCL 22-49-1, as amended by 2019 HB 1198, effective 2019.07.01].
But House Bill 1241 isn’t making anyone stronger or safer. House Bill 1241 never got past committee this Session. House Bill 1241 was Rep. Peri Pourier’s (D-27/Pine Ridge) proposal to train hotel workers to identify and respond to signs of human trafficking. But she’s a Democrat, and most of the sponsors were Democrats, and the hoteliers and retailers weren’t that interested in fighting human trafficking, so House Commerce and Energy killed HB 1241 10–2.
The Governor does not appear to have cited the wrong bill. The Legislative Research Council lists four 2019 bills under “sex trafficking” in its subject index. The only other one to pass was HB 1063, which does the opposite of cracking down by raising the age at which a person offering sex for compensation from 16 to 18. The fourth bill, HB 1154, was Rep. Isaac Latterell’s (R-6/Tea) outlandish and unworkable porngate and porn tax bill, which died in committee (but somehow still got more votes than Rep. Pourier’s far more sensible bill).
“Laws” thus did not go into effect last week to “further crack down on human trafficking.” One law did. The other was killed five months ago by the Governor’s party, because businesses said it was too much effort.