The Jacksonville City Council is looking at how to enforce a new state law requiring human-trafficking-awareness signs to be posted in certain businesses and public areas.
Councilman Tommy Hazouri is sponsoring a bill requiring businesses to pay up to $500 if they don’t post a sign.
The required sign urges people to call a national human-trafficking hotline if they or someone they know are being forced to engage in work or prostitution and can’t leave.
“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave-whether it is prostitution, housework, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work, or any other activity- call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233-733 to access help and services. Victims of slavery and human trafficking are protected under United States and Florida law. This notice is posted pursuant to Section 787.29, Florida Statutes, and Section 150.413, Jacksonville Ordinance Code.”
If Jacksonville police or fire personnel find the sign isn’t posted in strip clubs, certain massage parlors and other areas, the business would be cited.
To be in compliance, businesses have to register online and print a sign to post.
At Monday’s city Finance Committee meeting, Councilman John Crescimbeni wanted to know why the law didn’t go further.
“Retail work; restaurant work; other activity; farm work; factory work. Was there any discussion about why the signage was only limited to a couple of different classes of businesses when the language in the sign references so many different types of businesses?” he asked.
Council members talked about including other types of businesses in the city ordinance, and whether money should be spent on a database of the businesses.
Bill sponsor Hazouri said he wants to further address human trafficking, particularly concerning migrant labor. But, he added, that might come in the form of a future bill.
“I don’t want to black flag this [bill] to death,” he said. “I just think it really addresses what we intended to address and that’s the entertainment facilities and massage parlors.”
The committee voted to put the bill on hold for two weeks to gather more information.