On Monday, March 16, 2015, the New York State Assembly unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). This legislative victory marks a continued effort to end trafficking in New York – the country’s fourth largest trafficking hub. The New York State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues (NYSPAC), has supported the TVPJA since 2012 through state advocacy efforts, including participating with the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition (NYSATC). Together these groups worked to coordinate a group of 41 survivors and advocates to attend Monday’s event and participate in a press conference with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announcing that the Assembly would pass a comprehensive package of anti-trafficking legislation, including the TVPJA, and witness the passage of this vital legislation.
The TVPJA increases penalties for traffickers and buyers who fuel this criminal industry, prevents the re-victimization of trafficking victims and provides broader access to legal and social services for the victims of this heinous crime. The passage of this bill, included as one of the ten points within Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, ended a two-year stalemate which was due to a disagreement between the Senate and Assembly about whether to pass all ten points together. Assembly bill sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said it best, “It’s been a long battle. I’m ecstatic that we’re finally going to be saving lives. Every perpetrator you put behind bars for one extra year means they’re not out on the streets doing it again.”
During the legislative vote, the Assembly floor was hushed in silence and anticipation as a green “Y” appeared next to each Assemblymember’s name indicating a vote to pass TVPJA. Moments after the bill unanimously passed, supporters in the gallery stood and cheered to celebrate this amazing triumph for women, children, and families. “What an exciting day! Three years of hard work, advocacy efforts, and collaboration between Advocates for Public Policy, New York State Public Affairs Committee, and the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition has finally paid off. This legislation will save lives and provide victims with essential protections and toughen penalties against those who prey on them,” said Sara Kern, one of the three APP members who had the honor of witnessing this historic event in Albany. The next stop for the TVPJA is to Governor Cuomo’s desk for signature. We encourage you to celebrate this legislative victory and spread the news by sharing announcements on the NYJL’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In the weeks leading up to NYSPAC’s annual Spring Conference, APP is buoyed by this legislative victory and will use it to choose our next legislative issue. Stay tuned for updates about how you can get involved with APP’s advocacy efforts.