Senate Passes New Bills

Human traffickers would be punished under a Senate-passed bill
that takes on what one lawmaker on Monday called a "crime against humanity."

The bill would create felony offenses for human trafficking, with the most severe punishment for trafficking children or people who are injured. If the proposal becomes law, Kentucky would join 27 other states that outlaw human trafficking.

The measure, which cleared the Senate on a 37-0 vote and now goes to the House, is aimed at preventing the trade of people who are subjected to lives of servitude or sexual exploitation.

"Basically, it's simple, it's a crime against humanity," said Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro, the bill's lead sponsor.

The bill would make human trafficking a felony punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. The crime would carry a 10-to-20-year sentence if the victim was seriously injured. Someone trafficking a minor also would face stiffer penalties, including 20 years to life in prison if the youngster is seriously injured.

The Rev. Patrick Delahanty, who is working on the bill for the Catholic Conference, called human trafficking a form of "modern slavery."

Congress passed a law banning human trafficking in 2000 to combat what the State Department has said is a growing problem in the United States. It says that as many as 800,000 people a year are trafficked worldwide, with up to 17,500 of those coming to the United States, according to its 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The legislation is Senate Bill 43.

A proposal aimed at streamlining the review of some proposed energy plants won easy approval from the Kentucky Senate on Monday.

The bill would allow large proposed coal or biomass gasification projects to skip a review by a siting board, which looks at a plant's compatibility with the area.

Such proposals would still receive local planning and zoning approval.

Sen. Robert Stivers, the bill's sponsor, said the streamlined review would improve Kentucky's competitiveness in trying to lure such energy facilities.

The bill was opposed by Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, who noted that many Kentucky counties have no planning and zoning. The Lexington Democrat said there have been no complaints about siting board review.

"I would argue that the burden is on folks that want to eliminate citizen input to show that it has been a problem," he said.

Tom FitzGerald, head of Kentucky Resources Council, later said in an interview that the bill amounted to "a slap in the face of local input."

The bill also would allow applicants for environmental permits to seek specific time periods for the review.
The bill passed 36-1 and now goes to the House.
The legislation is Senate Bill 196.

A proposed mandate on cigarette manufacturers to only sell self-extinguishing cigarettes in Kentucky cleared a House committee on Monday.

Proponents say the measure would cut down on fires and fire-related deaths because the cigarettes automatically extinguish themselves when left unattended.

The measure heads to the full House for consideration. A similar
plan is pending in the Senate.
The measures are House Bill 278 and Senate Bill 134.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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