Charleston, WV - On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, supporters of House Bill 4489 will Tweet at Governor Tomblin (Twitter handle: @GovTomblin), asking him to include the WV Human Trafficking bill, HB 4489,on the agenda for a special session for the budget.
Advocates for the bill will hold a one hour Tweet-a-Thon at 9 a.m. on April 13th in front of the Mountain Lair in Morgantown, and all day long April 13th during the annual Child Advocacy Network (WV-CAN) conference at Glade Springs. Supporters of the bill all over the state are invited to join in the Twitter storm.
“We hope this event will draw attention to the need for the Human Trafficking bill, which passed both Houses unanimously,” said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, lead sponsor of HB 4489. “The Governor is the only one who can place a bill on the call for a special session,” she added. “We expect the Governor will call a special session to pass a balanced budget before July 1, 2016, which is required by the Constitution.”
House Bill 4489 fixes definitions which made prosecution difficult, and clarifies that victims of trafficking can be given immunity if they are underage, or can seek to have convictions expunged, if they are adults. It also makes human trafficking victims eligible for money from crime victims compensation fund.
"Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery, and it happens here in West Virginia," said Karen Haring of Libera, Inc., a West Virginia nonprofit which empowers women to live in freedom. "In the past year, child traffickers have been arrested in Wheeling, WV, and every year there are calls from West Virginia to the national human trafficking hotline."
To voice your support for the campaign to add the bill to the special session agenda, please Tweet @GovTomblin and include the hashtag: #EndHumanTrafficking. Emily Chittenden-Laird is Executive Director of the WV Child Advocacy Center Network. Child Advocacy Centers specialize in treating victims of sexual abuse, some of whom have been caught up in trafficking. Ms. Chittenden-Laird, who is coordinating the Twitterstorm, had some suggestions of possible tweets:
The national Human Trafficking Hotline number is: 1 (888) 373-7888 and the text number for victims is: "BeFree" (233733). The Hotline is operated by the Polaris Project, named after the North Star slaves followed to obtain their freedom. The Polaris Project provides state, national and international information about human trafficking. Their website is here.