WUFT News

Targeting massage parlor hours and residence rules, new Legislature pushes for more human trafficking laws

By on January 25th, 2013

As Human Trafficking Awareness Month is coming to a close, Florida lawmakers are continuing effors to curb human trafficking by putting more penalties in place to shut down illegal massage parlors.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill designed to enhance Florida’s human trafficking laws including making it a second-degree misdemeanor for a person to operate a massage parlor if he or she does not have a valid government ID.

Lawmakers, though, received reports that some illegal massage establishments are getting around this new law.

Now, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee is writing a bill to crack down on those massage establishments.

“This bill is not a partisan issue,”  said Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth. “We have members in our community that are being subjected to a horrendous way of life — servitude and sexual trafficking. And this bill is designed to prevent that.”

The bill prohibits a person or employees operating a massage parlor from living at a massage parlor. It also makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to operate a parlor between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., which is the most common time frame that sexual trafficking occurs.

The bill allows for some exceptions, said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, the committee chair, though some lawmakers worry about the bill’s effects on legitimate massage parlors.

The committee intends for businesses legitimately offering services late at night, like hospice facilities, hospitals or other establistments that have employees who get off late and need therapeutic massages, to continue as they are, Gaetz said.

Representatives from the massage industry argue that the time frame needs to be wider.

“We’re looking at maybe from midnight to 5 a.m.,” said Alex Spassoff, legislative chair of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association. Massage therapists get calls from “airline pilots, theater performers, entertainers who travel, who come in late, international travelers who come in from overseas at a late hour.”

“They’re on a different time clock than we are,” Spassoff said.

Spassoff added that the association will be working with law enforcement officials to identify those business owners who are legitimate and illegitimate.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated Alex Spassoff’s title as legislative director of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association. He is in fact the legislative chair of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association.

Chris Kirschner wrote this story online.


This entry was posted in Florida and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Florida

Scott Highlights Florida’s History As He Talks Of Its Future

Gov. Rick Scott gave a State of the State speech Tuesday that was as much a Florida history lesson as it was a vision for the state’s future — telling lawmakers he wants more tax cuts, more money for education and more affordable college tuition.


Governor Rick Scott urges attendees of a rally in Gainesville to vote early and to encourage others to do the same. The stop was one of many on a Get Out the Vote bus tour on October 28th, 2014.

Governor Scott State Of The State Address

Florida Governor Scott delivers the State of the State Address


Cannabis_Plant

Questions Raised About Proposed Pot Rule

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, February 27, 2015 — A lawyer for the Legislature is questioning the Department of Health’s proposed medical-marijuana rule, slated for a public vetting on Monday. The top lawyer for the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee raised concerns this […]


The building photographed is the largest solar installation in Marion County. Recently completed, the installation is estimated to generate 1,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Despite Obstacles, Solar Energy Slowly Gains Traction In Florida

Solar energy is growing in popularity in Florida. The largest solar power system in Marion County was recently completed despite losing incentives, including Florida’s solar rebate.


Jim Weaver and Rich Baumiester smile while they enjoy drinks together at a bar. The couple look forward to getting married Aug. 29 in Florida.

Same-Sex Couples Enjoy More Benefits With Marriage Legalization

With the legalization of same-sex marriage in Florida, gay and lesbian couples will now be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage that were not available through civil unions or domestic partnerships.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments