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A bill to combat human trafficking and expand protections for young Hoosier victims is moving to the senate.

House Bill 1200 is authored by State Representative Wendy McNamara and was supported by the Indiana House of Representatives this week.

The current law requires Hoosiers 15 years old or older at the time of trial to testify in court. McNamara’s proposal would allow survivors 14 years old or younger at the time of their assault to submit a video statement for court procedures if they are less than 18 at the time of the trial.

The bill would also increase sentencing for perpetrators whose victims are less than 18 years old and require local organizations or agencies to report investigations of human trafficking to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

Currently, individuals who offer to or pay for sex acts can only be prosecuted with a Level 5 felony if they pay the trafficker directly.

But law enforcement says it is difficult to prosecute suspects because a majority of transactions occur between the perpetrator and the victim. Under McNamara’s proposal, a person could be convicted of the felony regardless of whether they pay the victim or the trafficker directly.

The bill now moves to the Indiana Senate for consideration.

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