Bill 5240, introduced by state Representative Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods), was passed out of the House Criminal Justice Committee today. The bill is part of a legislative package dealing with human trafficking in Michigan, and passed with bipartisan support. It will now go to the full House for consideration.

“Even though many people are unaware of this tragedy, human trafficking is a crime that exists in our own backyard. Every day, people are being born, bought and sold into slavery, just as in the antebellum days of the American South,” said Banks. “I am proud my bill was voted out of committee, and I am honored to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to see that it becomes law.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, and it is quickly growing. HB 5240 amends the statute of limitations for human trafficking crimes. Under the bill, there would be no statute of limitations for an offense punishable by life imprisonment and a 10-year statute of limitations for offenses with lesser punishments.

If DNA evidence of a human trafficking offense is obtained from an unidentified person, an indictment could be found and filed at any time.

“Although it may be surprising, Michigan is not safe from the crime of human trafficking. Sadly, it happens every day,” Banks said. “With the passage of this bill, it will be easier to find and punish the people guilty of committing these heinous crimes in our state.”