SACRAMENTO - In her first bill introduced in the California State Senate,Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) has proposed to reinstate funding for human trafficking victims in California. California hosts the highest rate of human trafficking in the United States and the demand for victim services is rising. SB 991 includes a study to fully understand the scope of the problem and how the state needs to address this issue.
"Considering we have a $9 billion surplus in our state budget, there really is no reason to cut off funding for these vital support services," said Senator Chang. "We need to help survivors on their journey to freedom, especially when California has the infrastructure to combat human trafficking."
Since 2014 the state has committed funding for programs with a proven record of helping human trafficking victims. This year's budget failed to fund these programs, leaving victims vulnerable. The Senate bill directs $15 million to the Office of Emergency Services that will include technical assistance and training for qualified nonprofit organizations. The Human Trafficking Victims Assistance Fund will also support a periodic study to measure the magnitude of the human trafficking crisis in California. The study will inform policymakers about the prevalence of this modern form of slavery.
California is ranked #1 in the U.S. for most trafficking cases, nearly double the margin of Texas which is ranked #2. Figures show 89% of victims are female and 25% are minors. California hotline calls have increased by 248% from 2012 to 2016. Thanks to funding from programs like the Human Trafficking Victims Assistance Fund, between April 2016 to March 2018, a total of 6,211 victims in California were provided services such as education, counseling, shelter, and legal assistance. During the same time period, Los Angeles and Orange Counties assisted 2,836 victims.
SB 991 has earned the support of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking, a nonprofit organization seeking to put an end to modern slavery and human trafficking.