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Missouri State Rep. Kevin Corlew – General Election Thoughts and Human Trafficking Task Force

Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew represents Missouri House district 14. Most of Representative Corlew’s district is in Platte County, but a small portion of it extends into Clay County. This is his November 3, 2016 email newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish these newsletter from elected officials please click here.

A Reminder to Let Your Voice Be Heard on Tuesday

The people of Missouri are set to help determine the future of the state and the nation on November 8. It’s now up to the registered voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box. They will need to turn out not only to decide who will lead the country and the state, but also to determine races for statewide offices, state representative, county offices, and for a range of ballot issues that can make significant changes to the way the state operates. Without question, this is an important election, and if Missourians are going to make this country’s representative democracy work as the founding fathers intended, it’s imperative that everyone take advantage of the fundamental right that is voting.

The good news is that voter participation rates are typically high during presidential elections. As an example, the 2012 general election saw approximately 2.8 million of the 4.2 million registered voters cast a ballot for a participation rate of almost 66 percent. The number was even higher for the 2008 general, which saw a participation rate of more than 69 percent. When both numbers are compared to the 35 percent participation rate for the 2014 general election, it’s clear that voters are motivated to turn out during presidential elections. I saw a an article this morning in which it reported the Missouri Secretary of State as predicting a 71 percent turnout on Tuesday.

It is imperative that voters take the time to learn the candidates and the issues, so they can make informed votes. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” November 8 is an opportunity for Missourians to cast their votes to help determine the direction the state and the nation will take over the next four years.

In the next day or two, I will send out a non-partisan summary of the ballot issues, amendments and propositions that are on the ballot this year. Please remember to participate in the election on Tuesday. To find out where you need to go to vote, visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.

Task Force Meets Again to Discuss Ways to Fight Human Trafficking

Members of the Human Trafficking Task Force recently held two hearings to discuss Missouri’s next steps to fight trafficking in the state. This Task Force has been established as a result of legislation that I supported in 2015.

Task Force members met in Mehlville and Columbia to take testimony on the issue that continues to destroy lives in Missouri and around the world. In Columbia the task force heard emotional testimony from a woman who told the story of how she was trafficked by her parents from the time she was a toddler. Her courageous decision to share her story reminded the committee that trafficking too often begins at a young age and within a family.

The chairman of the task force said the witness’s testimony highlighted many of the issues the task force hopes to address as it continues its work. The task force hopes to look at ways to prevent trafficking, to catch it when it happens, to make sure the multiple agencies that might be exposed to trafficking would refer such a case to an investigating agency, and to back groups that support victims’ transitions into life after trafficking.

The task force learned that trafficking victims who are rescued often need months and even years of mental, emotional, and physical treatment. Treatment is extremely expensive and time consuming and there is currently a lack of resources for victims of trafficking. The task force chairman said the group will consider recommending budgetary proposals that would give financial backing to the groups that offer treatment to victims. A subcommittee within the task force is currently studying the issue.

The task force will also consider recommending the creation of a state position that would be dedicated to dealing with trafficking issues. Additionally, the task force will recommend that the state require or recommend that the national trafficking hotline be posted in employers’ break-rooms, and that former trafficking victims be given options to expunge prior prostitution convictions.

The task force plans to meet again in November or December to finalize the recommendations it will make to the General Assembly. I will continue to support measures to fight and eliminate the horrible crime of human trafficking. This past session, I co-sponsored legislation (HB 1562) to protect children by expanding the crime of sexual trafficking to prohibit someone from advertising a child participating in a sexual act. The legislation passed and was signed into law by the governor.

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