By Jessica M. GrazianoThe Honolulu Star-AdvertiserThe Honolulu City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to approve a bill to regulate the business and services of escorts.
It is a longshot, but there is a growing body of opinion on the issue, which has become an increasingly heated debate in recent years.
The legislation, which would create a public-private partnership for escort services, would not require the escort to work for the agency or even pay for sex, according to the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
The bill would instead establish an industry-led regulatory body to regulate escorts’ practices.
Alicia Lopes, executive director of the Hawaii Coalition for Escort and Human Trafficking Victims, said in an interview last week that the bill would be a first step toward making the industry more accountable and better regulated.
The industry has been in trouble for years, she said, as lawmakers have turned away from their original goal of protecting people from sex trafficking.
The industry has struggled to provide the services that the government has sought to ensure, such as safe sex education and prevention programs, she added.
Hawaii has the most expensive sex-trafficking cases in the country.
The state ranks at No. 2 in terms of annual number of arrests and charges, with an estimated 6,500 victims.
Lopes said the bill, if passed, would be the first step in the state to begin addressing this issue.
The Honolulu Police Department is the state agency charged with overseeing the state’s escort industry.
The city council will decide whether to pass the bill this week, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported.
The law would apply to licensed escort services operating in Hawaii.
The proposal was first introduced last year, and the city council approved it last month.
It’s unclear if the council will vote to approve the bill or not.
The legislation has been amended since then, and now requires approval by the City Council.
The proposed legislation is expected in committee on Monday.
The bill is part of a wave of anti-traffic laws that are being passed across the country to regulate sex work.
It comes as advocates are trying to build a coalition to address the growing problem of trafficking.
It’s a complicated issue, with many different stakeholders.
There are laws regulating prostitution and escorts, but the government does not have the authority to enforce them.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has long fought for an end to the trade, and last year its president, Kate McFarland, helped lead a coalition of more than 60 organizations to organize the first-ever National Association for the Protection of Sex Workers.