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Advocacy Toolkits

by | Feb 18, 2019

FLORIDA SB 540 – Opposing Prostitution Registry

SWOP Behind Bars is strongly opposing Florida Senate Bill FL 540 (FL SB 540). The website for this bill is https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00540. The sponsor is Senator Lauren Book, who attempted a bill in 2018 that included some portions of this one. An identical House version has also been introduced, but this toolkit currently focuses on the Senate. We will update and release new versions as things change, such as additional committee meetings and the House.

Here is our Advocacy Toolkit for contacting Florida Legislature and letting your representative know you oppose this bill!

Language of FL SB 540 Summary: “Human Trafficking;

Requiring the owner or operator of a public lodging establishment to train certain employees and create certain policies relating to human trafficking by a specified date; requiring the Department of Children and Families, in consultation with the Department of Law Enforcement and the Attorney General, to establish a certain direct-support organization; requiring that the criminal history record of a person who is convicted of, or enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation be added to the Soliciting for Prostitution Registry, etc.”
Our Bill Analysis Soliciting for Prostitution Registry For alleged violations of F.S. 796.07(2)(f)1, people would be placed on a new “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” if they: • receive a guilty verdict in trial • plead guilty • plead nolo contendere (no contest), which avoids trial and doesn’t admit guilt, but still has consequences

They would be added to this registry even if the judge withholds adjudication (formal conviction). Someone arrested for this charge would only escape getting added to this registry if: • the charge was dropped • they receive a not-guilty verdict in tThe registry would be controlled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The bill does not specify if only FDLE would have access to this registry, if it would have additional access for other agencies, or if it would be public.

Public Lodging Requirements

This bill would require that within 30 days of hiring, public lodging employees who routinely interact with guests must complete education in “identification, prevention, and reporting of suspected human trafficking.” Public lodging establishments would be fined $1000 per day per employee who isn’t trained. The bill does not specify particulars, such as who would design the educational program, how the program would be paid for and implemented, who would administer the training, what material would be required, or who would accept the reports.
LEO Requirements Law enforcement officers (LEOs) would be required to complete training on identifying and investigating human trafficking in their basic recruit training or as continuing education. The training must be developed with DCF and the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. Their certification as LEOs would be inactive until this training is completed.
DCF-led Direct-Support Organization The Department of Children and Families (DCF), in consultation with FDLE and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), would lead a direct-support not-for profit corporation to raise and spend funds and partner with other organizations for “inpatient care to victims of human trafficking in treatment centers throughout the state.” Currently, human trafficking programs operate without certification or standards; this bill would address that for the direct-support organization, but it may not apply to programs that do not partner with this organization. This bill does not specify what those standards would be. The board of directors would be members with law enforcement background appointed by FDLE (2), members appointed by the Attorney General (3), members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives (4), and members appointed by the Speaker of the Senate (4). The board would not be required to include survivors of human trafficking in its leadership.

Why We Oppose This Bill

• Ignores the reality that most trafficking is for labor exploitation, not trading sex

• Puts victims and survivors of human trafficking in greater danger through “rescue” efforts which may subject them to further abuse and retaliation

• Leads to harm including injury, trauma, and death from “trafficking raids”/”john stings”, arrests, detentions, interrogations, and imprisonments

• Takes away power from victims and survivors to decide for themselves which, if any, interventions they wish to receive

• Fails to include survivors in leadership roles for the direct-support organization

• Places responsibility for a direct-support organization with DCF, an agency that has caused considerable harm to victims and contributed to trafficking of children and teenagers. DCF is part of the problem, not part of the solution—children and teenagers flee abusive foster caregivers or families while under DCF’s supervision, and are abused or even killed without DCF’s notice. Even the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lauren Book, admits that DCF “has a systemic problem” with “blatant and unacceptable failures,” and she has stated “I do not have any confidence that other vulnerable individuals across the state can be kept safe by DCF”2

• Does not provide for the critical needs of victims and survivors: freedom from abuse and exploitation by 3rd parties, romantic/sexual partners, family, and caregivers; employment with a living wage; safe housing; long-term recovery support; and more needs identified by victims and survivors rather than “experts”

• Targets marginalized communities disproportionately involved in trading sex due to lack of access to other resources, especially LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, immigrants and migrant workers, and people without housing or a living wage

• Violates the privacy of potential victims and survivors of sex trafficking, sex workers, and clients of sex workers, along with guests of public lodging who are scrutinized and profiled as possible victims

• Harms victims and survivors of sex trafficking who are not correctly identified by placing them on a “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry”

• Forever labels registrants of the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” with a “Scarlet Letter” that could block access to resources, housing, and employment outside of the sex industry due to stigmas against trading sex and criminal records

• Forces people to remain in the sex industry due to inability to obtain other forms of employment— in other words, those who place them on the Registry become their traffickers

Contacting Legislators: Who to Write, Fax, Call, and/or Visit

For general tips from the Florida Senate on communicating with legislators, see: https://www.flsenate.gov/About/EffectiveCommunication
To find your legislators and their contact information: http://flsenate.gov/Senators/Find

Bill Sponsor: Senator Lauren Book (D)

District 32: Part of Broward county http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s32 book.lauren.web@flsenate.gov
District Office 967 Nob Hill Road Plantation, FL 33324 (954) 424-6674
Tallahassee Office 202 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5032
Legislative Assistants Zoraida Druckman and Jeffrey Scala

WHERE AND WHEN the HEARING IS TAKING PLACE

FLORIDA SENATE: CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/CJ
Committee Meeting: 02/19/19, 10:00 am, 37 Senate Building

MAKE CONTACT WITH THESE COMMITTEE MEMBERS ASAP!

If you ever attend a committee meeting, be advised that these meetings are recorded, broadcast on TV screens in the capitol, and streamed and archived online. You may be visible in the audience, and you will certainly be prominent if you’re given the opportunity to address the community. The details listed on appearance forms are also entered into public record. Arrive early to ensure entry as the doors will be closed if the room fills.

Chair: Senator Keith Perry (R)

District 8: Alachua, Putnam, and part of Marion counties
https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S8 perry.keith.web@flsenate.gov @KeithPerryFL
District Office 2610 NW 43rd Street Suite 2B Gainesville, FL 32606 (352) 264-4040
Legislative Assistants Kayla Lott and Robert Vogan Secretary Adriana Mitchell
Satellite Office Marion County Board of Commissioners 115 SE 25th Avenue Ocala, FL 34471
Satellite Office Putnam County Government Complex 2509 Crill Avenue Palatka, FL 32177
Tallahassee Office 316 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5008
Legislative Assistant Kinley Tuten

Vice Chair: Senator Jeff Brandes (R)

District Office 9800 4th Street North Suite 200 St. Petersburg, FL 33702 (727) 563-2100
Legislative Assistants Zachary Hubbard, Melissa Meshil, and Vanessa Thompson
Tallahassee Office 416 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5024

Senator Randolph Bracy (D)

District 11: Part of Orange county http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s11 bracy.randolph.web@flsenate.gov
District Office 6965 Piazza Grande Avenue Suite 211 Orlando, FL 32835 (407) 297-2045 FAX (888) 263-3814
Legislative Assistants Aisha Bien-Aime, Charlean Gatlin, and Travaris McCurdy
Tallahassee Office 213 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5011

Senator Anitere Flores (R)

Deputy Majority (Republican) Leader District 39: Consists of Monroe and part of Miami-Dade counties
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s39 flores.anitere.web@flsenate.govDistrict 24: Part of Pinellas county
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s24 brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov @JeffreyBrandes
District Office 11401 SW 40th Street Suite 465 Miami, FL 33165 (305) 222-4117
Legislative Assistants Nicholas Alvarez, Demi Busatta, and Lissette Vasquez Secretary Tiffany Lorente
Tallahassee Office 406 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5039

Senator Jason W. B. Pizzo (D)

District 38: Part of Miami-Dade county
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s38 pizzo.jason.web@flsenate.gov @SenPizzo
District Office 5582 N.E. 4th Court Suite 7B Miami, FL 33137 (305) 795-1205
Legislative Assistants Maggie Gerson and Linda Kraft
Tallahassee Office 224 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 (850) 487-5038
Legislative Assistant Teri Cariota

FLORIDA SENATE: CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE TBA in future version

Telephone Calls and Voicemails
Basic information from your phone call or voicemail may be documented by the staffer (or the legislator themselves if you speak to them) for a database, such as your name and your position on the bill. This is so the legislator can track their constituents’ positions on legislation. If you don’t get voicemail, you’re more likely to speak to their assistant rather than the legislator themselves; the assistant will take your message. Feel free to customize the wording to make it your own, but we advise that you include the various elements (ex. issue and position, the “ask”, a thank you).

Sample Call Template Introduce yourself
Hello, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [city/town/county].
[1. If someone answers] May I please speak to [Title and Last Name]? [If they aren’t available, the staff may offer to take a message or you may ask if the staff will relay your message.]
[2. If you get voicemail, just proceed to leave your message.]
Issue and position
[Why are you calling? Share your position and the action you want them to take on this bill, such as…] I’m calling to urge [you/Title and Last Name] to protect victims and survivors of human trafficking and promote the human rights of sex workers by opposing SB 540.
Why this is personal to you
[Who are you in relation to this issue? Why does it matter to you? Are you affiliated with SWOP Behind Bars, a SWOP USA chapter, or other agency relevant to this bill?]
Optional: Personal story or talking points
[Option 1: Describe in 1-3 sentences how this legislation would personally affect you or someone you know or how you have been personally affected by the issues raised in this bill, or Option 2: make 1-3 brief points such as our opposition points or your own take on the impact of this bill]
Identify the need or problem
[What is the need or problem you want addressed, ex. lack of resources or the violence that sex workers experience]
Identify a solution
[What will help address the need/problem, ex. decriminalizing sex work or providing youth with housing instead of sending back to abusers]
The “ask”
[Ask if you can count on them or express your hope that they will oppose and be specific about the action you want them to take, such as…] I hope I can count on [you/Title and Last Name] to oppose this bill so we can empower victims and survivors of human trafficking and protect the human rights of sex workers. Thank you
Thank you so much for your time. [Optional request for response if you’re willing to share contact information, such as…] Please let me know how you intend to vote on SB 540. I can be reached at [contact information]. Emails, Faxes, and Letters

VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER: “Florida has a very broad public records law. Written communications to or from Florida Senators and Senate employees regarding legislative business are public records available to the public and media upon request, unless exempt from disclosure under one of the limited exceptions provided in the Florida Statutes. Your email address and all or significant portions of email communications may therefore be subject to public disclosure.”

In short, if you out yourself in writing to a legislator, you may be publicly outed through records requests. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! Just be mindful of what you say about yourself if there is anything you wouldn’t want in public record.

A former legislative intern advised: “Send emails or faxes. Mail sits around unopened.” Many of these legislators don’t have a fax number listed, so that isn’t an option for all of them. Many don’t care to receive postal mail, which also takes longer to get to them and get opened up by their staff. However, if you have sufficient time prior to a deadline, postal mail is still an option.

Feel free to customize the wording in these templates to make them your own, but we advise that you include the various elements (ex. issue and position, the “ask”, a thank you). Make sure you send these individually to the legislators and not in bulk (ex. no “Dear Senators”, they want to see their own name on it). You can send a quick version or a more personalized one.

Sample Quick Email/Letter Template Subject Line (Emails)

Protect Human Trafficking Victims and Sex Workers by Opposing SB 540
Salutation
Dear [Elected Title] [Last Name],
Issue and position
[Why are you writing? Share your position and the action you want them to take on this bill, such as…] I am writing to urge you to protect victims and survivors of human trafficking and promote the human rights of sex workers by opposing SB 540.
Talking points
[Make 1-3 brief points such as our opposition points or write in your own]
The “ask”
[Ask if you can count on them to oppose and be specific about the action you want them to take, such as…] Your help is needed to oppose this bill and ensure that victims and survivors of human trafficking will be empowered to take back control of their own lives, not be forced into interventions and services that may cause them further harm. Your help would also protect the human rights of sex workers who are already stigmatized for their work, and they would be more vulnerable to harms such as being trafficked if a Soliciting for Prostitution Registry is created. [Optional request for response if you’re willing to share contact information, such as…] Please let me know how you intend to vote on SB 540. Thank you
Thank you for your time [OR] Thank you for your attention to addressing human trafficking and the human rights of sex workers.
Closing
Respectfully, [Your name and any contact information you wish to share]

Sample Personalized Email Template Subject Line

Protect Human Trafficking Victims and Sex Workers by Opposing SB 540
Salutation
Dear [Elected Title] [Last Name],
Issue and position
[Why are you writing? Share your position and the action you want them to take on this bill, such as…] I am writing to urge you to protect victims and survivors of human trafficking and promote the human rights of sex workers by opposing SB 540.
Why this is personal to you
[Who are you in relation to this issue? Why does it matter to you? Are you affiliated with SWOP Behind Bars, a SWOP USA chapter, or other agency relevant to this bill?]
Personal story or talking points
[Option 1: Write your own 1-3 sentence example of how this legislation would personally affect you or someone you know or how you have been personally affected by the issues raised in this bill, or Option 2: make 1-3 brief points such as our opposition points or write in your own take on the impact of this bill]
The “ask”
[Ask if you can count on them to oppose and be specific about the action you want them to take, such as…] Your help is needed to oppose this bill and ensure that victims and survivors of human trafficking will be empowered to take back control of their own lives, not be forced into interventions and services that may cause them further harm. Your help would also protect the human rights of sex workers who are already stigmatized for their work, and they would be more vulnerable to harms such as being trafficked if a Soliciting for Prostitution Registry is created. [Optional request for response if you’re willing to share contact information, such as…] Please let me know how you intend to vote on SB 540.

Thank you
Thank you for your time [OR] Thank you for your attention to addressing human trafficking and the human rights of sex workers.
Closing
Respectfully,
[Your name and any contact information you wish to share]

In Person

Have a practiced speech ready to go, and be prepared for their questions or opposition. It’s all right if you don’t know the answer—you can say you want to be sure you provide the best information and will get back to them on it. If you’re speaking to a staff member, adjust how you address them; they will take notes for their boss. Sample Elevator Speech Introductions
Hello, [Title and Last Name]. I’m [name] from [city/town/county]. [Optional: identify an organization you’re representing and what it is, such as…] I’m a member of SWOP Behind Bars, a national social justice network dedicated to people who face discrimination because they are involved in the sex trade.
Issue and position
[Tell them why you’re there and what you want them to do about the bill, such as…] I’m here today to urge you to protect victims and survivors of human trafficking and promote the human rights of sex workers by opposing SB 540.
Why this is personal to you
[In 1 sentence, who are you in relation to this issue?]
Optional: Personal story and/or talking point
[Share 1-3 sentences about how this bill is relevant to you, or share a brief point such as our opposition points or your own take on the bill’s impact]
Identify the need or problem
[What is the need or problem you want addressed, ex. lack of resources or the violence that sex workers experience]
Identify a solution
[What will help address the need/problem, ex. decriminalizing sex work or providing youth with housing instead of sending back to abusers]
The “ask”
[You have them right in front of you, so ask if you can count on them to oppose or take action, such as…] [Title], can I count on you to oppose this bill so we can empower victims and survivors of human trafficking and protect the human rights of sex workers? Thank you and good bye!

FLORIDA SENATE 2019 CONTACT Spreadsheet

Advocacy Toolkits

by | Feb 18, 2019

FLORIDA HB 851 – Opposing Prostitution Registry

GENERAL BILL by Fitzenhagen
Human Trafficking; Requires owner or operator of a public lodging establishment to train certain employees & create certain policies relating to human trafficking by specified date; requires DCF, in consultation with the FDLE and AG, to establish a certain direct-support organization; requires that criminal history record of person who is convicted of, or enters plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation be added to Soliciting for Prostitution Registry; provides duties of Division of Hotels & Restaurants of DBPR, clerk of court, & FDLE; provides certified law enforcement officer training requirements.

Advocacy Toolkits

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FLORIDA SB 982 Human Trafficking Education in Schools

GENERAL BILL by Thurston
Human Trafficking Education in Schools; Revising the required health education in public schools to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking; requiring the Department of Legal Affairs to develop human trafficking awareness campaigns; requiring the department to develop and operate a hotline to receive reports of potential human trafficking activity, etc.

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HB 259: Human Trafficking

GENERAL BILL by Williams ; Plasencia
Human Trafficking; Revises required health education in public schools to include human trafficking; authorizes student to opt out of specified portion of health education; requires DLA to develop & operate hotline to receive reports of potential human trafficking activity & report specified reports to law enforcement for certain purposes.

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CS/SB 370: Victims of Human Trafficking

GENERAL BILL by Criminal Justice ; Harrell ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Perry
Victims of Human Trafficking; Requiring a specified period of incarceration for solicitation of prostitution offenses involving victims of human trafficking, etc.

Advocacy Toolkits

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FLORIDA HB 219 Victims of Human Trafficking