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Legislation to ban sex trafficking ads wins first-round approval in Missouri Senate

human trafficking
FBI website

Senate Bill 804 would make it illegal to advertise the availability of a child for sex. It would also make it illegal to advertise the availability of an adult for sex without her or his consent, a provision that was not included in a similar bill last year.

It's sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis.

"This is a problem in Missouri," Onder said. "Covering House, a Missouri refuge for victims, reports being contacted over 20 time over the last year with many victims as young as 12, and one (who was) 6 years old.

"Not surprisingly, promotion of human sex trafficking has moved to the Internet … It is estimated that it generates $45 million for advertisers, (with) 80 percent of that going to (the website) Backpage."

The bill was passed on a voice vote. It needs one more vote by the full Senate before moving to the Missouri House. 

Last year's bill was passed by the House on the first day of the final week of the 2015 session, but it died in the Senate after Democrats shut down debate on all bills in retaliation for Republicans forcing a vote on a right-to-work bill.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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