Iowa parents work hard to keep their children safe from predators both in person and online. The Iowa House Republicans recognize the challenges parents are facing from predators that are willing to go to great lengths to exploit vulnerable children. House File 2390 came from the Judiciary Committee to give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to fight those who harm children.
House File 2390 strengthens Iowa’s human trafficking laws as well as closes loop holes for possession of child pornography. The bill passed out of the Judiciary committee on February 21st, with unanimous, bi-partisan consent. Rep. Walt Rogers was the floor manager of the bill when it was debated on March 8th. The bill received overwhelming support and passed the house by a vote of 93-0, with 7 members absent.
The first several sections of the bill increase the punishment for those who engage in human trafficking and strengthens the code language against human trafficking. The bill requires those convicted of human trafficking to register on the sex offender registry and also provides that mistake of age is no defense in a human trafficking case. Estimates of the number of children and adults forced in to human trafficking vary, but what is known is that this multibillion dollar industry is putting Iowa kids at risk.
In 2008, a Nebraska man was charged and convicted, in Iowa, for recruiting young teenage girls for prostitution. Thankfully, few cases of human trafficking have been found in Iowa and the language in this bill insures anyone who engages in this crime is punished to the fullest extent of the law.
In addition to human trafficking, HF 2390 strengthens Iowa’s laws against child pornography. Under a 2007, Iowa Supreme Court Case, the state code was interpreted to mean no matter how many images of child pornography appear on a computer, the violator can only be charged with one count per computer. Clearly, this was not the original intent of the code and the language in HF 2390 makes it clear that a prosecutor can file multiple charges against a defendant for possession of multiple computer images of child pornography.
Protecting Iowa’s children from predators should be a priority of all Iowans. House File 2390 is now in the Senate awaiting action. In order for the bill to survive the funnel, the Senate must act quickly and move the bill out of the judiciary committee before Friday.