After months in legislative limbo, protections for human-trafficking victims pass in Pa.

State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A bill aimed at protecting child victims of human trafficking is on track to head to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for a signature.

It’s not a controversial proposal; however political horse-trading kept it stranded in the House for months.

Trading favors to get bills across the finish line isn’t uncommon in Harrisburg. But the human-trafficking bill stands out.

Early this summer, GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai amended it to include abortion-restricting language — a gambit that helped him get his own abortion measure out of a Senate committee.

As the fall session resumed, the trafficking proposal was put on the House’s voting calendar again and again — but Turzai always passed it over.

Bill sponsor Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, is retiring. It was one of his last priorities, and as the end of the session approached with no movement from the House, he began to get frustrated.

“We need to recognize that this is an important issue for our children,” he said. “They’re out there, we have predators out there, we need to put them in jail.”

“The Speaker of the House, he sets the schedule,” Greenleaf said. “All he has to do is bring it up for a vote. It’ll take five minutes.”

When the vote was finally called on the last scheduled session day, it was indeed quick. The House passed the measure unanimously, just as the Senate had done.

The measure will protect minors suspected of prostitution from any prosecution. Law enforcement will have to treat them like exploited children, not criminals.

Wolf has said he will sign the bill into law.

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