LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A Republican Michigan lawmaker has re-introduced legislation aimed at fighting human trafficking in Michigan.

Sen. Judy Emmons, of Sheridan, introduced legislation this week that would make the solicitation for prostitution of 16- or 17-year-olds a felony. It would also increase the penalties to no more than five years in prison or a fine of no more than $10,000, or both.

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“Human trafficking remains a $32 billion global criminal enterprise that devastates the lives of thousands of women and children every year. Only the illegal drug trade is more lucrative,” Emmons said in a statement.

“As a mother and grandmother, it is particularly alarming to me that two of every three victims are female and 80 percent of victims are exploited sexually — with 40 percent of cases involving the sexual exploitation of a child. Michigan has the chance to take a leading role in protecting our children and ending this modern-day slavery,” she continued.

Emmons said her bill is going after “the root of the problem” by targeting those who solicit prostitutes. She said Michigan is a “hot spot” for human trafficking because of the state’s international borders and waterways.

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“People think that these types of crimes only happen overseas, but the reality is that we have it happening in our Michigan hometowns,” Emmons said. “In fact, Michigan is a hot spot for trafficking due to our border with Canada and our waterways. We have seen cases of traffickers prostituting minors at our Michigan truck stops and cases where escort services have brought young women from Detroit and Chicago and force them into prostitution in Hawaii.”

Emmons also introduced the legislation last session, but it died in the House.

The Michigan law banning human trafficking (MCL 760.462a, et seq.) went into effect on August 24, 2006. The law was strengthened in 2010, with those changes taking effect on April 1, 2011. Updates to the law included: adding human trafficking to the list of predicate offenses that fall under the state racketeering law, authorizing additional court-ordered restitution for trafficking victims and stronger penalties.

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