Yesterday the House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of legislation offered by Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) which will assist in the ongoing battle against human trafficking in the State of Illinois.
SB 1841 is an initiative of the Center for Prevention of Abuse (CFPA) based in Peoria, and closes loopholes that have long allowed certain businesses and individuals to practice massage therapy without a State license. Organizations like the CFPA along with law enforcement have cited these loopholes as challenges against decreasing the rate of trafficking, because of illicit massage parlors that engage in criminal activity without oversight by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. SB 1841 simplifies the law and closes the loopholes that have enabled some criminal organizations to operate within shadows of the law.
“This is common-sense legislation that I hope will provide at least one more tool to law enforcement as they continue to tackle the abhorrent issue of human trafficking. This problem is larger and more prolific than most people are aware of, as these crimes are being committed in virtually every community all throughout the State. I am very proud of the important work that the Center for Prevention of Abuse continues to do, and it has been my privilege to support their efforts by advancing this legislation.”
Upon effect of this legislation, any organization or individual performing massage therapy of any kind without the proper license will be in direct violation of State law and subject to penalty. The requirement to be formally licensed will also bring greater scrutiny upon criminal organizations that may be operating under the guise of a legitimate business.
“Like many police departments, East Peoria recognizes this growing problem within our communities, and these crimes are very often committed behind the veil of legitimate business and commerce,” said East Peoria Police Chief Steve Roegge. “While the City has amended its own ordinances to assist the efforts of law enforcement, these new changes at the State level will better enhance our success as we continue to combat these traffickers. We appreciate the work and attention of Rep Mike Unes to help make that possible.”
The Center for Prevention of Abuse’s Chief Executive Office, Carol Merna, added “As a victim-service provider, CFPA believes this is a step in the right direction in preventing and responding to human trafficking. This legislation will ensure that businesses in Illinois are held to a high standard of inspection and coding, which should curb illegal and illicit activity that aids human trafficking rings. We thank Representative Unes and his colleagues for championing this bill.”
SB 1841 now heads to the Governor’s Desk for his signature.