877-776-2004 Ext 555 swopbehindbars@gmail.com

SWOP Behind Bars is calling for heavy revisions to Florida Senate Bill 540 (CS/SB 540). The website for this bill is https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00540. The sponsor is Senator Lauren Book, and it is now co-sponsored by Senator Lori Berman. A House version (HB 851) has also been introduced which is identical to the original submission of SB 540, but this toolkit focuses on the Senate. We will only support this bill if the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” is removed.

CS/SB 540 is on the Community Affairs Committee meeting agenda for Tuesday March 12 at 4 PM, room 301 in the Senate Building. At this time, no amendments have been submitted since the prior Criminal Justice Committee meeting. The amendment deadline is 24 hours before this committee meeting. We do not yet know if any of the concerns we raised before will be addressed in amendments to be voted on in this meeting, or if they will be addressed in a way that we would support.

We use “sex workers” throughout this document to refer specifically to adult consensual sex workers who are full service sex workers; we aren’t using it to refer to minors or to victims/survivors of human trafficking in the sex industry, or to sex workers involved in legally permitted forms of sex work like adult film and stripping. We use “sex trafficking” to refer to human trafficking in the sex industry as distinct from other labor industries like agriculture and hospitality.

Language of FL CS/SB 540

Summary: “Human Trafficking; Requiring 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 not get added to this registry if:

  • the charge is dropped
  • they receive a not-guilty verdict in trial

 

The 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.

The bill also does not specify Senator Book’s stated intention that this registry would only be for what she refers to as “pimps” and “johns,” and when there is a reasonable knowledge that the person’s services being bought or sold is a victim of human trafficking in the sex industry. The statute 796.07(2)(f) is unclearly worded and seems to allow for applying it to sex workers. It appears in practice that different charges are issued to sex workers[2]. However, this statute is not limited to situations involving sex trafficking. It is much more often applied to clients and third parties related to sex work that is not trafficking.

Public Lodging Requirements

This bill would require that within 6 months of hiring, public lodging employees who work in housekeeping or the front desk/reception must complete education in “identification, prevention, and reporting of suspected human trafficking.” Public lodgings must have procedures for reporting to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (Polaris) or local law enforcement agency, and must have a sign obviously visible to employees about these procedures. The guidance on identifying must be specific to the public lodging sector, and the guidance must specify the employee’s role in reporting and responding to suspected human trafficking. The division[3] may take disciplinary action against establishments that aren’t complying. Establishments are not liable for any harm resulting from an employee’s failure to prevent/detect/report if the establishment was complying.

One of the amendments surprisingly requires that the training distinguish between labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

The bill does not specify certain particulars, such as who would design the educational program, how the program would be paid for and implemented, who would administer the training, or what material would be required.

LEO Requirements

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) would be required to complete 4 hours of 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 (DSO)
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 standard. The DSO will assist in creating training on detecting human trafficking and best practices on intervening and treating survivors. This bill does not specify what those best practices 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 or sex workers. It also only requires the FDLE board members to have “knowledge in the area of human trafficking,” not any of the others.

Our Talking Points

This bill is flawed in many ways that could potentially be corrected through amendments, especially a strike-all that would do a complete rewrite. The anti-sex work movement in Florida loves to pass laws regarding human trafficking and considers itself a leader in the “fight to end demand” by penalizing sex work. We therefore do not believe we could defeat the passage of this bill, and we do share the goals of fighting human trafficking and increasing services for victims and services, so we are focused on harm reduction. Anti-trafficking has become equated with sex work prohibitionists instead of all people who oppose human trafficking despite how we also share the concern for victims and survivors of human trafficking. We are critical of Florida’s failures to support victims and survivors and we advocate for better services and protections. We could support a bill that addresses these needs without harming sex workers. It is possible that this bill could be heavily revised to achieve harm reduction. In its current form, we cannot support it due to the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry.”

  • Problem: Trainings and awareness efforts on “signs of human trafficking” often target and profile multi-racial families, trans people, immigrants, neurodivergent people, and consensual adult sex workers. They can be dangerously inaccurate.
    • Recommendation: Require that trainings, print materials, and media are developed with leadership from survivors of human trafficking, the sex worker community, and organizations led by and serving these populations.

 

  • Problem: Requires reporting to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which has notable problems with confidentiality, referring to under-resourced agencies, and not being as up-to-date as state-based resources.
    • Recommendation: Create and invest in state resources instead, especially those that are survivor-led and/or sex worker-led. Florida also already maintains many referral databases, such as Central Florida’s Resource Point and United Way 211, which could be networked statewide into a continuum of care. Consider utilizing these resources which are more knowledgeable about and connected to local programs.

 

  • Problem: Bill does not include affected parties such as human trafficking survivors and sex workers in the DCF-led direct support organization (DSO) or the training programs. For the DSO board members, no prior knowledge of human trafficking is required of anyone except for the two FDLE appointees.
    • Recommendation: Require leadership by survivors and sex workers at all stages of development and implementation, including on the DSO board of directors.
    • Recommendation: Require that multiple members of the board of directors have prior knowledge and experience in providing services to human trafficking victims, such as medical professionals, social workers, and victim advocates.

 

  • Problem: Most services for human trafficking victims and survivors do not utilize best practices for serving this population. Many are also only available as diversion programs, greatly limiting their accessibility to people who want and need services.
    • Recommendation: Require that programs adhere to best practices to be established by the DSO, such as those described by Voices for Florida in their “Statewide Promising Best Practices Guidelines.” These include a victim-centered approach, conducting needs assessments to develop individualized service plans rather than applying a standardized service plan to everyone, and serving clients within a continuum of care rather than relying upon a single program to deliver services.
    • Recommendation: Require that programs under DSO contract accept self-referrals or referrals by agencies other than law enforcement to increase their accessibility to people who want their services.

 

  • Problem: The “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” includes people not guilty of any crime who plea guilty or nolo contendere rather than risk a poor outcome in trial. Registry includes people who aren’t violent offenders and aren’t involved in human trafficking, cruelly subjecting them to a lifetime of stigma and barriers. Registry is for prostitution-related charges, not human trafficking charges, failing to target the problem of human trafficking.
    • Recommendation: Do not create this registry.
    • Recommendation: Do not repeat the harms and the problems of the Sex Offender Registry. Any such registry should have heavily restricted access instead of being open to the public. It should not include youthful offenders, misdemeanor offenders, non-violent offenders, etc.
    • Recommendation: Instead of a “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” based on s. 796.07(2)(f), only use charges for human trafficking under s. 787.06—making it a “Human Trafficking Registry.”

 

  • Problem: Bill operates under mistaken assumption that “end demand” approaches (ex. criminalizing people who solicit prostitution) will reduce victimization. “End demand”/Nordic Model approaches increase victimization and human trafficking, such as discouraging purchasers of sexual services from providing their identities or negotiating consent which furthers risk-taking behaviors, keeping safety measures like working together or possessing condoms illegal or regarded as “evidence”.
    • Recommendation: Allow people who trade sex to report experienced or witnessed victimization without being prosecuted.
    • Recommendation: Maintain criminalization of human trafficking.
    • Recommendation: Fully decriminalize sex work to reduce harms for sex workers, sex trafficking victims, survivors, and all people.

 

  • Problem: Current law enforcement officer (LEO) approaches to human trafficking and prostitution subject potential victims to additional risks and harms from LEO interventions, such as psychological trauma, physical injury, and potentially death. The criminal justice system furthers these harms with imprisonment, criminal charges, sentences, and a lifelong criminal record. Failed “rescue” attempts also put victims at risk of retaliation and escalating abuse from their traffickers due to the increased LEO attention.
    • Recommendation: Prohibit harmful and potentially traumatizing actions such as aiming weapons at, handcuffing, detaining, arresting, or charging any potential victims. These all increase harm and have possibly lifelong consequences.
    • Recommendation: LEOs should not prolong investigations; instead, victim-centric methods should be employed to offer adults assistance and attempt to gain their consent for any risks they may face from LEO activities.
    • Recommendation: Require the development of new approaches in collaboration with human trafficking survivors and sex workers so that adults are empowered to decide what (if any) interventions they receive.
    • Recommendation: Whenever possible, ensure a victim advocate is present. LEO priorities are perpetrator-focused, not victim-centric. LEOs cannot reasonably be expected to provide victim services. This allows LEOs to better do their jobs instead of trying to fulfill multiple conflicting roles.
    • Recommendation: Amend s. 943.0583 to automatically expunge the criminal records of human trafficking victims instead of requiring a petition.

 

  • Problem: FDLE allows itself to write policies for LEOs to “engage in sexual contact or conduct constituting lewd behavior” as part of their work[4], including recording people in sexual situations without their knowledge and LEOs engaging in sexual contact without their victims’ “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent,” which is required by s. 794.011(1)(a). This is state-sanctioned sexual assault.
    • Recommendation: Prohibit FDLE from allowing LEOs to commit sexual assault in defiance of s. 794.011(1)(a) and s. 794.011(4)(d)(7)[5]. It is illegal, unethical, and unnecessary.

 

Other Points of Concern

  • Asks hotel employees to be responsible for identifying and reporting suspected human trafficking, yet it does not address extensive labor exploitation within the hotel industry.
  • Florida law requires that knowledge or suspicion of child abuse and exploitation must be reported to the abuse hotline, but this bill does not distinguish how such reporting is required for minors and not adults.
  • 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, are trafficked while in foster care, and are abused or even killed without DCF’s notice[6]. Senator Book said there unfortunately is no alternative and a statewide agency is needed to oversee the DSO.
  • Does not provide for the critical needs of victims and survivors that contribute to vulnerability to becoming or remaining trafficked: freedom from abuse and exploitation by romantic/sexual partners, family, and caregivers; financial needs; safe housing; long-term recovery support; and more needs as identified by victims and survivors rather than outside “experts” who determine those needs for them.
  • Does not address how marginalized communities are disproportionately involved in trading sex by choice or by coercion/fraud/force 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 and rights of potential adult victims and survivors of sex trafficking, adult consensual sex workers, and clients of adult consensual sex workers.
  • Also violates the privacy and rights of public lodging guests who are scrutinized and profiled as possible victims or traffickers, such as biracial families, single parents traveling with children, and single cisgender women traveling alone.

 

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

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. We recommend contacting Senator Book and your personal legislator, as well as committee members in advance of committee meetings. You may get a response from the legislator themselves, or from a staff member on their behalf.

Bill Sponsor: Senator Lauren Book (D)

 

District 32: Part of Broward county

http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s32

book.lauren@flsenate.gov

@Book4Senate

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

Legislative Intern:
Angel Gonzalez

 

 

Bill Co-Sponsor: Senator Lori Berman (D)

 

District 31: Consists of part of Palm Beach county

http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s31

berman.lori@flsenate.gov

@loriberman

District Office:
2300 High Ridge Road
Suite 161
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
(561) 292-6014

FAX (888) 284-6491

Legislative Assistants:
Evelyn DuPlecy, Kasey Lewis, and Abby Ross

 

Tallahassee Office:
311 Senate Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5031

 

 

FLORIDA SENATE: COMMUNITY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Chair: 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@flsenate.gov
@anitere_flores

 

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 Flores is also on the Criminal Justice committee and has heard this bill before

Vice Chair: Senator Gary M. Farmer, Jr. (D)

 

District 34: Consists of part of Broward county

https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S34

farmer.gary@flsenate.gov
@FarmerForFLSen

 

District Office:

Broward College Campus, Suite 913

111 East Las Olas Boulevard

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

(954) 467-4227

 

Legislative Assistants:

Jennifer Gottlieb and Jay Shannon

 

Tallahassee Office:

404 South Monroe Street

216 Senate Office Building

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5034

 

Legislative Assistant:

Johnny Brown

Senator Doug Broxson (R)

 

District 1: Consists of Escambia, Santa Rosa, and part of Okaloosa counties
https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S34
broxson.doug@flsenate.gov

 

District Address:

Room 403

418 West Garden Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

(850) 595-1036

 

Legislative Assistant:

Kevin Brown

Secretary:

Kaly Fox

 

Tallahassee Address:

404 South Monroe Street

318 Senate Office Building

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5001

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

 

* Senator Pizzo is also on the Criminal Justice committee and has heard this bill before. He asked clarifying questions in the meeting and later had an extension discussion with our team.

Senator David Simmons (R)

 

District 9: Consists of Seminole, and part of Volusia counties
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s9

simmons.david@flsenate.gov

@SenPizzo

 

District Office:
220 Crown Oak Centre Drive
Longwood, FL 32750
(407) 262-7578
FAX (888) 263-9662

 

Legislative Assistants:
Valerie Clarke, Carolyn Grzan, and Diane Suddes

 

Tallahassee Office:
404 Senate Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5009

Legislative Assistant:
Teri Cariota

 

 

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 adult consensual sex workers by amending CS/SB 540 and opposing the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry”.

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 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 amend or oppose this bill so we can empower victims and survivors of human trafficking and protect the human rights of adult consensual 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 CS/SB 540 and if you will commit to proposing and supporting amendments. 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 Senator/Sir or Ma’am” bulk email—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 Amending CS/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 consensual adult sex workers by amending CS/SB 540 and opposing the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry”.

Talking points

[Make 1-3 brief points such as our points or write in your own take on the impact of this bill]

The “ask”

[Ask if you can count on them to require amendments to this bill and be specific about the action you want them to take, such as…] Your help is needed to amend this bill. We are asking you to ensure that adult victims and survivors of human trafficking can take back control of their own lives and recover from their trauma by choosing for themselves when to receive help and what help they receive. Unwanted and unasked for reporting may cause them further harm, such as relocation away from help, assault, or even murder by their trafficker. Taking this considerable risk needs to be their decision. Your help in making necessary revisions would also protect the human rights of adult consensual sex workers who are stigmatized for their work and experience harm, such as barriers to accessing important services or reporting violence against them [Optional request for response if you’re willing to share contact information, such as…] Please let me know how you intend to vote on CS/SB 540 and if you will commit to proposing and supporting amendments.

Thank you for your time [OR] Thank you for your attention to addressing human trafficking and adult consensual 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 Amending CS/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 consensual adult sex workers by amending CS/SB 540 and opposing the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry”.

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 points or write in your own take on the impact of this bill]

The “ask”

[Ask if you can count on them to require amendments to this bill and be specific about the action you want them to take, such as…] Your help is needed to amend this bill. We are asking you to ensure that adult victims and survivors of human trafficking can take back control of their own lives and recover from their trauma by choosing for themselves when to receive help and what help they receive. Unwanted and unasked for reporting may cause them further harm, such as relocation away from help, assault, or even murder by their trafficker. Taking this considerable risk needs to be their decision. Your help in making necessary revisions would also protect the human rights of adult consensual sex workers who are stigmatized for their work and experience harm, such as barriers to accessing important services or reporting violence against them [Optional request for response if you’re willing to share contact information, such as…] Please let me know how you intend to vote on CS/SB 540 and if you will commit to proposing and supporting amendments.

Thank you

Thank you for your time [OR] Thank you for your attention to addressing victims and survivors of human trafficking and adult consensual sex workers.

Closing

Respectfully,

[Your name and any contact information you wish to share]

 

Committee Meetings

If you attend a committee meeting, be advised that these meetings are recorded, broadcast on TV screens in the capitol, and streamed and archived online by The Florida Channel. You may be visible in the audience, and you will certainly be prominent if you’re given the opportunity to speak. Arrive early to get through building security and navigate your way to the meeting room. The doors will be closed if the room fills. However, you can still enter if you arrive late and the room isn’t full. If it does fill, there are places around the building to view live proceedings on TVs.

If you are attending the committee meeting:

  • Equality Florida advises: “Businesses appropriate attire should be worn while in the Capitol. This includes suits, slacks, button up shirts, knee-length skirts, dresses and close-toed shoes. No jeans. Please wear comfortable (but business appropriate) shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.”
  • You must remain quiet—no loud conversations, applause, sounds from mobile devices, etc.
  • The Senate website provides some accessibility information.

If you are willing to address the committee to give public testimony or waive to support/oppose, remember that everything will be recorded for the public record. Here are some important things to know:

  • You can speak or waive for amendments, and/or to the bill as a whole after the amendments.
  • The details listed on appearance forms or cards are entered into public record, so provide information according to what you’re willing to have available to the public.
  • If you simply want support or opposition noted, you can check the relevant box next to “Waive Speaking.”
  • If you’re going to do this more than once, you might want to bring preprinted forms with all your basics already filled out. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of handwriting ahead of you.
  • When it’s time for appearance forms/cards, the chair will call your name. If you are waiving, you will state from in the audience that [your name] or [your organization] waives in support/to oppose. Only one person should waive on behalf of each organization (ex. one for SWOP Tampa, not everyone who’s there!)
  • If you give a testimony, you may get media coverage including quotes and video clips because the media is heavily covering this bill.
  • Do not give any information on the card or in your testimony that you are not willing to make public. That being said—this is a very important form of advocacy. You are showing that you not only took the time out to attend this meeting but that you care enough about it to give a speech.
  • You can deliver a practiced speech if you’re comfortable doing that, or you may bring a written speech or notes with you to the podium (on paper or mobile device).
  • The committee members may ask you questions after your statement, but the audience cannot. Be prepared to clarify or elaborate upon what you said and counter opposition or resistance.
  • The bill sponsor also gets the opportunity in Closing to address any points that you raised.

 

Meeting a Legislator or Their Staff In Person

Have a practiced speech ready to go, but don’t rely on reading from it. Be prepared for their questions (especially 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 industry.

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 as well as adult consensual sex workers by amending CS/SB 540. I also urge you to oppose the “Soliciting for Prostitution Registry” it would create.

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 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 they fled]

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 amend this bill so we can protect victims and survivors as well as promote human rights?

Thank you and good bye!

 

Writing and Research on Sex Work, Trafficking, Victimization, and Decrim

Here’s a selection of some of the many works you can cite. These are in APA format.

 

Albright, E., & D’Adamo, K. (2017). Decreasing human trafficking through sex work decriminalization. AMA Journal of Ethics, 19(1), 122-126. doi:10.1001/journalofethics.2016.19.1.sect2-1701

Amnesty International. (2016, May 16). Amnesty International policy on state obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of sex workers (POL 30/4062/2016) [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL3040622016ENGLISH.PDF

Bass, A. (2015). Getting screwed: Sex workers and the law. Lebanon, NH: ForeEdge.

Freedom Network USA. (2015, April). Human trafficking and sex workers rights. Retrieved from https://freedomnetworkusa.org/app/uploads/2016/12/HT-and-Sex-Workers-Rights.pdf

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. (2011). Moving beyond ‘supply and demand’ catchphrases: Assessing the uses and limitations of demand-based approaches in anti-trafficking [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.gaatw.org/publications/MovingBeyond_SupplyandDemand_GAATW2011.pdf

Global Network of Sex Work Projects. (2016, July 28). SWOP Behind Bars. Retrieved from http://www.nswp.org/news/swop-behind-bars

Global Network of Sex Work Projects. (2019, January 28). Policy brief: The impact of anti-trafficking legislation and initiatives on sex workers. Available from https://www.nswp.org/resource/policy-brief-the-impact-anti-trafficking-legislation-and-initiatives-sex-workers

Heineman, J., & Wagner, B. (2018, April 18). The sex trafficking panic is based on myths. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/jennyheineman/sex-trafficking-myths-sesta-fosta

Mac, J. (2016, January). Juno Mac: The laws that sex workers really want [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/juno_mac_the_laws_that_sex_workers_really_want

Platt, L., Grenfell, P., Meiksin, R., Elmes, J., Sherman, S. G., Mwangi, P.,… Crago, A. (2018, December 11). Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies. PLOS Medicine, 15(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680

Spellman, T. (2018, November 14). Op-ed: Why decriminalizing sex work is central for gender equity, public health, and racial justice. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/seventhirty-dc/why-decriminalizing-sex-work-is-central-for-gender-equity-public-health-and-racial-justice-63549237e36b

SWOP Chicago. (2016, September 13). Sex work and harm reduction: Tips for working with individuals in the sex trade [Slides as PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.heartlandalliance.org/mhri/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2016/10/9.13.16-Harm-Reduction-presentation-Best-Practices-for-Sex-Workers.pdf

TEDx Talks. (2014, November 24). The red umbrella — sex work, stigma, & the law | Maggie de Vries | TEDxSFU [Video file]. Retrieved from https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RUfcouJch7U

WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, NSWP, World Bank, & UNDP. (2012). Addressing violence against sex workers [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/hiv/pub/sti/
sex_worker_implementation/swit_chpt2.pdf

[1] 796.07 Prohibiting prostitution and related acts. (1) As used in this section: (a) “Prostitution” means the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses. (b) “Lewdness” means any indecent or obscene act. (c) “Assignation” means the making of any appointment or engagement for prostitution or lewdness, or any act in furtherance of such appointment or engagement. (d) “Sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; or the handling or fondling of the sexual organ of another for the purpose of masturbation; however, the term does not include acts done for bona fide medical purposes.

(2)(f) “To solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.” [Emphasis not in statute]

[2] Some things that sex workers are commonly charged for include: 796.07(2)(a) keeping an incall or outcall space; (e) offering or engaging in sex work; (g) living or being somewhere for the purpose of sex work; (h) aiding, abetting, or participating in any charges in that subsection

[3] Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation

[4] FDLE’s Ethical Standards of Conduct, principal 4.8, at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/CJSTC/Officer-Requirements/LE-Ethical-Standards-of-Conduct.aspx

[5] “The offender is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer as defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8), or (9), who is certified under s. 943.1395 or is an elected official exempt from such certification by virtue of s. 943.253, or any other person in a position of control or authority in a probation, community control, controlled release, detention, custodial, or similar setting, and such officer, official, or person is acting in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe that the offender is in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of government.”

[6] 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.” However, she says there is no alternative state agency that can fulfil this role. Citation: Tatham, C. (2019, January 16). State senator says no child can be kept safe by DCF following review of toddler’s death. WTSP. Retrieved from https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/local/pinellascounty/state-senator-says-no-child-can-be-kept-safe-by-dcf-following-review-of-toddlers-death/67-588326b7-80bf-40bb-aa3e-01b9de7dfec1