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Nev. Assembly considers sex trafficking bill cost

Matt Woolbright, Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Lawmakers on Monday quickly reviewed the financial sides of three sex trafficking bills as the Legislature's focus turns from the policy of many proposals to their costs.

The measures presented to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee deal with assisting victims of human trafficking and tightening penalties for some of the criminals. None of the three bills require the state to allocate money beyond the budgets being considered.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, one of the leading faces for the sex trafficking policy effort this session, presented AB338, which requires the state to come up with a network of counseling programs to help trafficking victims — particularly children.

The bill also requires operators of public transit facilities and rest areas or truck stops to display signs with information about the National Human Trafficking Hotline available to victims being trafficked. It also has the Department of Education electronically distribute materials aimed at helping teachers recognize signs of students who may be victims.

Because the information can be distributed electronically without a significant burden on the Department of Education, an estimated cost of $250,000 over the next two years was removed Monday, Hambrick said.

AB311, primarily sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle, D-Sparks, creates a contingency fund for victims of human trafficking. The account would be within the state general fund, but the revenue would come from grants and donations.

The interim finance committee would oversee the distribution and use of funds from that account to eligible entities working with trafficking victims. Unallocated money at the end of the year would stay in the account rather than reverting to the general fund.

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, is behind AB146, which proposes tightening the state's punishment for criminals who hold minors against their will and force them to work in some capacity.

It requires three extra employees at the state criminal repository, and the changed penalties are expected to expand the state sex offender registry by about 50 people per year. But those positions were included in the department's proposed budget before lawmakers, so if the budget is approved, there wouldn't be an extra cost for the state to implement the bill's provisions.

The committee took no action on any of the bills.