TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida has the third-highest number of human trafficking cases reported year after year. Now, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would hold restaurant and lodging industries responsible if they turn a blind eye to human trafficking.
Advocates are trying to get the public to understand that sex trafficking is happening right under our noses. We just need to know what to look for.
That's the point of a current bill the Florida legislature is hearing.
Wednesday, House Bill 167 passed unanimously in its third and final committee. The bill would require restaurants and hotels to train employees so they know how to spot the warning signs of human trafficking and report it.
It would also allow trafficking survivors to sue businesses that turned a blind eye while they were obviously being trafficked.
A handful of brave sex trafficking survivors testified at Wednesday's committee hearing.
Savannah Parvo told lawmakers, "There were times when my trafficker would leave me locked in a room, but would make arrangements with the hotel staff to let people in throughout the night to rape me. They never asked if I was OK or if I wanted the men to come in. They would always just unlock the door for them."
Parvo detailed her story about being trafficked in Central Florida at 12 years old.
Tampa native Connie Rose also testified.
"I did not think that a 15-year-old Christian girl, growing up in an upper-middle-class family in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida, on the water could be a prostitute," explained Rose.
Hear more about Connie's story here- Story of survival: Being sex trafficked in Tampa
So far HB 167 has made it through the Florida House without a single opposing vote. The companion bill still has to be heard in the Senate.
The session ends March 9th, so lawmakers have about two weeks to pass this bill along with many others.