Governor Abbott Signs Legislation To Crack Down On Human Trafficking, Eliminate Rape Kit Backlog

June 4, 2019 | Austin, Texas | Press Release | Legislative | Legislative - Signature Statement

Governor Greg Abbott today signed into law several bills related to combating human trafficking and reducing the rape kit backlog in Texas. The Governor was joined by several stakeholders, including representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Dallas County District Attorney's Office, Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, Operation Texas Shield, and Traffick911, as well as members of the Texas Legislature for the signing ceremony at the New Friends New Life Youth Resource Center in Dallas, an organization that provides aid and assistance to formerly trafficked teenage girls, sexually exploited women, and their children.

Among the Legislators present for the signing included Senators Kelly Hancock, Jane Nelson and Royce West, and Representatives Victoria Neave and Angie Chen Button. 

“Today, because of the efforts of lawmakers in both chambers, I have the privilege of signing legislation that not only enhances our tools to fight human trafficking and sexual assault, but also works to eliminate the rape kit backlog that has plagued our state for far too long,” said Governor Abbott. “Survivors of the horrific crimes of sexual assault and human trafficking deserve justice, and I am committed to protecting Texans and ensuring offenders are punished to the fullest extent of the law. These laws ensure that survivors are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and that they are given a seat at the table as we work to eradicate sexual assault and human trafficking across the Lone Star State.”

Senate Bill 20 (Huffman/S. Thompson) enhances tools to fight online sex trafficking, increases the penalties for buyers, and creates a process for victims to clear their records of certain offenses committed solely as a victim of trafficking.

House Bill 8 (Neave/Nelson) will tackle the rape kit backlog in Texas by requiring an audit of untested kits, establishing timelines for results to be submitted, and extending the statute of limitations.

House Bill 1590 (Howard/Watson) creates a Sexual Assault Survivors' Task Force within the Office of the Governor to catalog services, identify gaps, and coordinate efforts across the state to strategically address sexual assault.

House Bill 2613 (Frullo/Huffman) directs forfeited proceeds from stash houses to services that aid victims of human trafficking.

Senate Bill 71 (Nelson/S. Thompson) establishes a statewide telehealth center to expand victim access to specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.