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New human trafficking bill would issue $5,000 fine if caught trying to buy sex
RHINELANDER - Lawmakers and non-profits across the state are pushing for new legislation to increase the penalty for those involved with human trafficking. 
Eye Heart World Co-founder and Director Season Russo says using the human body as a product makes it easier to sell over and over again.

"With drug trafficking you can sell a dime bag once you sell drugs once and they're used up, they're gone," says Russo. "But if you can get into human trafficking, which is the second most profitable criminal industry, you can lure in a young girl or lady - lure her in and she can turn 6, 8, 10, 12 tricks at night."

Tricks, meaning a sex act ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. Russo says the problem is more widespread than you may think, with reported cases in every single county in Wisconsin. It affects girls of ever race, age, and socio-economic background.

"It could be a young girl that has been running away for years, it could be a young girl in the foster care system," says Russo. "It could be a teen girl that's in a great home with two parents in the home that gets lured in because of social media."

A new bill, that would create a $5,000 fine for those caught trying to buy sex, has passed the state Senate by unanimous vote of 32-to-0. State Senator Andre Jacque says both Democrats and Republicans see the importance of protecting Wisconsin's youth.

"Right now it actually is cheaper for people to pay the fine for sex trafficking then it is for what they would actually pay out in many cases for purchasing sex," said Jacque. "But really what this bill does is not only increases penalties for sex trafficking, but then it also provides additional funding for victim services."

Half of that fine would also be used for investigations surrounding internet crimes against children. Jacque says one of the main reasons Wisconsin is a hub for sex trafficking is due to its easy access to Chicago and Minneapolis along Highway 94.

"It's very easy for, based on demand, for people to go up the highway and follow major sporting events," said Jacque. "It's something where it's very easy for - largely women - to be sold into sexual slavery and for their pimps to traffic them across the entire state."

This bill has been waiting to be voted on by the state Assembly for a couple weeks. If it passes, Governor Ever has already said he supports the bill.

Story By: Maya Reese

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