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

Tax Collection Agencies Expedite Concealed Weapon Permits

Concealed Weapon Intake System, a voluntary program offered by the government, allows individuals to apply for or renew a concealed weapon license. Adopted by Marion County in April, people who serve in the military are receiving permits in less than a month.


State Panel Prepares To Move Forward With Medical Pot

The panel responsible for selecting the five nurseries where the state’s first legal pot will be grown have been appointed by Florida health officials. There will be three members, the chief of the Office of Compassionate Use, an accountant and a member of Gov. Rick Scott’s Statewide Drug Advisory Policy Council. 


medicalmj

Medical Marijuana Supporters Renew Legalization Efforts With New Petition

Supporters of medical marijuana legalization went to court houses all over Florida on Friday in an effort to acquire the signatures needed to put the issue on the 2016 ballot. They need a total of 683,149 signatures, according to Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, an organization dedicated to legalizing medical marijuana.


Marion County Plane Crash

Two People Dead In Weirsdale Plane Crash

Two people are dead after a single-engine aircraft crashed in Weirsdale, Fla. today. Marion County officials conducted early investigations before handing over to the FAA and NTSB.


Jimmy Nelson, owner and host of television show Extreme Fishing Adventures, films for an episode in Key West, Fla., in January 2011. Nelson, 36-year-old Dunnellon resident, gave up real estate in 2008 to host his own fishing show.

Dunnellon Resident Hosts Fishing Television Show

Jimmy Nelson, a resident of Dunnellon, Florida, grew up with an affinity for water and fishing. After his job as a real estate agent was affected by the 2006 housing market decline, Nelson began his journey of turning his fishing hobby into a television career.


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
Underwriting Payments