ANDERSON — A local representative is one of the Indiana legislators working on trafficking laws.
Rep. Melanie Wright, D-Yorktown, authored two bills regarding sex trafficking of minors for the 2019 general session. When the issue of sex trafficking of minors was brought to her attention six years ago, it became a key issue to her, as she teaches music for kindergarten through sixth grade at Daleville Community Schools.
"A lot of people think it isn't happening here," she said. "As a full-time teacher, it really haunted me."
The first bill is House Bill 1598. The bill proposes appropriation from the state general fund to aid the prevention of human trafficking.
"Local law enforcement definitely needs training so they have formal plans in place," Wright said. "We should offer rehabilitation for survivors and really protect children in the foster system, as they're most at risk."
Wright's second bill is House Bill 1603. The bill proposes raising knowingly soliciting sex from a minor to a Level 6 felony.
"My colleagues in crime say that punishment doesn't deter it from happening, but there needs to be a stiffer penalty for sure," she said. "Just in the sheer protection our children."
Sitting on the House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee, Wright said she is steadfastly motivated to make change.
"Some of the testimony, the witnessing we've heard is terrible. It stays with you, it's horrendous, and we're sitting there," she said. "To imagine living through it is terrible.
"This is a reality in our community. It's a really sobering thought."
Follow Laura Arwood on Twitter @lauraarwood or call 765-648-4284.