County Council Takes Testimony On Human Trafficking Bills

Only four people testified.


Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Council on Tuesday night took testimony on three bills covering human trafficking.

One measure would penalize landlords and property managers who knowingly permit the use of their rental units for violating prostitution laws or other human trafficking activities. But Councilman Jessica Fitzwater, whose sponsoring all three bills, says this legislation would give landlords and property mangers some leeway. “It protects any landlords or property managements that’s already started a process by responding to what’s happening in one of their properties.”

A second piece of legislation would require hotel workers to undergo training in how to recognize human trafficking. “The purpose of this bill is to insure that front line employees in hotels and motels in Frederick County are educated on the signs of human trafficking, making sure that they know what to look for and also know what to do if they see something they suspect,”: says Fitzwater.  She said under this bill,  any training done by national hotel chains or national lodging associations would satisfy this requirement.

A third measure would define “bodyworks” in the county code. Those who want to set up such operations that offer services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology will need to apply for a zoning certificate, and must certify to certain background information. That data will be used by the Division of Planning and Zoning to determine if the applicant should receive a zoning certificate.

“We salute your efforts to address the egregious practice of human trafficking,” said Pamela Fagelson, the President of the Maryland Reflexology Association. “It’s a complex and devastating industry and MDRA supports your efforts to help law enforcement distinguish between traffickers with the sham  operations, and legitimate body workers.”

Kimberly Scott with the local League of Women Voters spoke in favor of the three bills addressing human trafficking. “The League of Women Voters opposes all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking,” she said.

The Council is expected to take action on these bills at a later date.


By Kevin McManus