No to Prostitution Study, HB 287 (2018)

Cornerstone urges you to vote “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 287.

When the bill was introduced, and throughout the work sessions on the bill, Cornerstone urged that the bill shift its focus to a study of human trafficking in New Hampshire. We also urged that legislators explicitly reject re-defining prostitution as a type of regulated industry or so-called “sex work.”

The amendment adopted by the House is well-intentioned but fails to address our concerns with the underlying bill. The amendment recommends that a study committee consult with survivors of sex trafficking. That was a positive development, but we wonder why the voices of survivors weren’t a higher priority when the bill was originally drafted.
 

As is often the case with “study committees,” the desired conclusion of the study is obvious from the way the committee is given its charge. Among the agencies listed in the bill as “interested parties” with which the study committee may consult are organizations advocating legalization of prostitution. Survivors of sex trafficking are listed twelfth out of thirteen suggested sources of information for the committee members.
 
We agree with the sponsor of the bill on one thing: the legal and cultural status quo of prostitution needs to change. We would support a law-enforcement emphasis on going after sex buyers and traffickers. We support community efforts to develop pathways for prostituted individuals trapped in their situation. HB 287 is not the way to get there.

It is important to note that on January 2, 2018, Governor Sununu said that he will veto this bill.

Governor Chris Sununu issued the following statement on HB 287, relative to establishing a committee to study decriminalizing sex work.

“There are those in the legislature that want to explore legalizing prostitution. I am 100% against it, and would veto the bill if it reaches my desk.”

 

Please vote “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 287.

Submitted to Senate Judiciary Committee by Shannon McGinley, executive director.