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Why Did These Republicans Vote Against Helping Sex Trafficking Victims?

Why Did These Republicans Vote Against Helping Sex Trafficking Victims?

Multiple bills regarding protecting the victims of sex trafficking went through the House during the 87th Legislature. Some are sitting on Abbott’s desk waiting to be signed. Even though these bills passed, dozens of Republicans voted against them.

This one is a head-scratcher. Although these bills weren’t widely talked about or an issue of controversy, while going through them, I noticed that again and again, several Republicans voted against helping victims of sex trafficking, even when the bill had no fiscal impact. So, the question becomes, why?

All of the bills below are out of the House, some are making their way through the Senate, and others have made it through the Senate as well.

Matt Gaetz – Republican currently in legal jeopardy for alleged child sex trafficking

It started with HB390.

HB390 helps victims of sex trafficking by requiring employees in commercial lodging establishments to take a 20-minute course on recognizing victims of sex trafficking. There is no financial impact on the state or taxpayers. Yet, 17 Republicans voted against it.

I watched this bill in committee and on the House floor. Republicans didn’t ask questions or raise concerns, but they voted against it.

Those Republican Representatives are:

  • Kyle Biedermann
  • Briscoe Cain
  • Jeff Cason
  • Jay Dean
  • Gary Gates
  • Cole Hefner

  • Justin Holland
  • Matt Krause
  • Ben Leman
  • Jared Patterson
  • Dennis Paul
  • Matt Shaheen
  • Bryan Slaton
  • Tony Tinderholt
  • Steve Toth
  • Cody Vasut
  • Terry Wilson

Weird, right?

All of the Representatives who voted against HB390 were Republican men. Looking at what other bills have gone through related to sex trafficking, you’ll be shocked to learn that the party of “save the children” has several bad actors who don’t actually want to save the children.

Roy Moore – Republican accused of sexually assaulting nine teenagers

HB985, or the Julia Wells Act, was a bill written for Julia Wells, a victim of human trafficking. This Act mandates information related to human trafficking prevention is included in driver education and driver safety courses. There is no fiscal impact on the state or taxpayers and gives younger people more awareness, so they don’t become victims of sex trafficking, like Julia Wells.

33 Republicans voted against it:

  • Steve Allison
  • Doc Anderson
  • Keith Bell
  • Greg Bonnen
  • Dustin Burrows
  • Briscoe Cain
  • Giovanni Capriglione
  • Tom Craddick
  • Jay Dean
  • Gary Gates
  • Cody Harris
  • Brooks Landgraf
  • Jeff Leach
  • Ben Leman
  • Mayes Middleton
  • Jim Murphy
  • Andrew Murr
  • Candy Noble
  • Tom Oliverson
  • Tan Parker
  • Jared Patterson
  • Matt Schaefer
  • Matt Shaheen
  • Hugh Shine
  • Shelby Slawson
  • Reggie Smith
  • David Spiller
  • Lynn Stucky
  • Tony Tinderholt
  • Steve Toth
  • Gary VanDeaver
  • Cody Vasut
  • Terry Wilson

Two women voted against HB985.

Candy Noble and Shelby Slawson crossed the gender gap to vote with the 31 male Republicans who voted against educating young people on keeping themselves safe from sex trafficking. Why?

Brett Kavanaugh – Republican accused of sexually assaulting five women

HB2633 is a good bill that will save children from sex trafficking. Right now, in the state of Texas, there are group homes and shelters for homeless, at-risk teenagers, and child abuse victims. Under current statutes, teenage victims of sex trafficking are being placed with other teenagers in these group homes and shelters.

This is problematic because sometimes these victims are groomed by their abuser and intentionally placed in these facilities by predators to recruit other teenagers into sex trafficking. As a result, already abused children become easy prey for trafficking.

HB2633 would establish grants for standalone facilities dedicated to the recovery and protection of teenage sex trafficking victims without placing them with other children.

This grant’s fiscal impact is $700,000, which is less than we pay for government employee mileage each year.

23 Republicans voted against HB2633.

Those Republicans were:

  • Keith Bell
  • Kyle Biedermann
  • Angie Button
  • Briscoe Cain
  • David Cook
  • Sam Harless
  • Cold Hefner
  • Stephanie Klick
  • Ben Leman
  • Mayes Middleton
  • Candy Noble
  • Tom Oliverson
  • Jared Patterson
  • Dennis Paul
  • Scott Sanford
  • Matt Schaefer
  • Bryan Slaton
  • Shelby Slawson
  • Reggie Smith
  • David Spiller
  • Valoree Swanson
  • Tony Tinderholt
  • Steve Toth
Jim Jordan – Republican accused of covering up and failing to report sexual abuse of minors

On this bill, it’s easy to default to, “Well, maybe they voted against it because of the fiscal impact.”

Maybe. However, every single one of these Republicans also voted for an abortion ban and new Jim Crow voter restriction laws. Those two bills alone will wind up costing millions upon millions of dollars in legal fees after every civil rights group from El Paso to Brownsville sues them.

If these Republicans really cared about fiscal impact, they wouldn’t have voted on half of the bills they championed.

HB2758.

HB2758 is a bill that places a requirement on health care workers to obtain continuing education on human trafficking prevention.

There is an interesting note on the author’s summary of this bill.

The note says, “It has been suggested that this limits physicians’ freedom to choose other accredited courses.” There are some professions, like healthcare workers, which have to take CE courses every year to stay abreast of their ever-evolving field. What kind of medical professional would say, “I don’t want to learn about human trafficking prevention, fuck them, I’d rather learn about whatever.” It’s a stupid argument against something that can save victims of human trafficking, and we shouldn’t buy it.

This bill has no fiscal impact on the state or taxpayers.

Here are the Republicans who voted against it:

  • Briscoe Cain
  • Craig Goldman
  • Matt Krause
  • Brooks Landgraf
  • Andrew Murr
  • Shelby Slawson
  • Steve Toth
  • Gary VanDeaver
  • Cody Vasut
Pat Meehan – Republican who used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim levied by a female staffer

Republicans voted FOR illegal sex businesses.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of illicit massage businesses in Texas that operate as a front for prostitution and human trafficking. These businesses also often have ties with organized crime. When these “businesses” set up shop in commercial properties, the commercial property owners are stuck with them under the lease terms.

HB2803 allows commercial property owners to terminate the leases of unlicensed massage establishments. There is no fiscal impact.

These Republicans voted against this bill:

  • Kyle Biedermann
  • Greg Bonnen
  • DeWayne Burns
  • Dustin Burrows
  • Cody Harris
  • Brooks Landgraf
  • Jeff Leach
  • Mayes Middleton
  • Andrew Murr
  • Tom Oliverson
  • Jared Patterson
  • Scott Sanford
  • Matt Shaheen
  • Bryan Slaton
  • Reggie Smith
  • David Spiller
  • Gary DanDeaver

These are votes that represents these elected official’s values.

Undoubtedly, each of these Republicans who voted against these bills will reason why they voted against them. There are nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking in Texas at any given time. The study also showed approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas at any given time. Sex trafficking in Texas is a bigger problem than in any other state. Many of us may look at this as a vote on morals. Saving victims, especially children, of sex trafficking seems like the moral and righteous thing to do. Because we look at it that way, it may be hard to understand why they voted as they did.

There are 78 Republicans in the Texas House. Dozens of Republicans didn’t vote against these bills. Zero Democrats voted against any of these bills.

When your far-right wing co-worker talks about “save the children” or their ideas of “pro-life,” make sure to point out that dozens of Texas Republicans voted against saving children by voting against these bills. Representatives like Shelby Slawson authored the ‘Heartbeat Bill’ based on her supposed pro-life position. Yet, Slawson voted against several of these bills, which seems to conflict with her pro-life position.

Whether these Republicans are morally corrupt or are pretending that it’s not their job to protect victims of sex trafficking, they need to go. It’s time for Texas to clean house, and the elected Representatives listed above are a great place to start.

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