SB 7064 Spotlight

April 16, 2024

You may have heard the exciting news that Allies is expanding to Florida!

This expansion originated from a piece of legislation passed by Florida’s legislature in 2023, Senate Bill 7064. While this legislation offers a model for other states to improve human trafficking data collection efforts, other novel provisions of Florida’s law point to the power of valid and reliable data in evidence-based policy decisions. This is critical at a time when laws designed to combat human trafficking are increasingly attacked on constitutional grounds.

SB 7064 charges the University of South Florida (USF) with collecting human trafficking data and reporting key trends and actionable insights to the Florida legislature annually. Given Allies’ experience collecting and reporting on human trafficking data for Texas and Louisiana, USF chose Allies to support its data repository efforts through our innovative Lighthouse data platform.

The need for valid and reliable human trafficking data has never been more prescient. Laws designed to prevent and suppress human trafficking are increasingly being challenged by groups protecting the interests of the adult entertainment industry, and evidence is needed to persuasively defend against these challenges.

For example, Florida’s SB 7064 made evidence-based changes to its regulation of “adult theaters”, which, among other things, includes strip clubs. A large body of evidence shows a strong nexus between human trafficking and strip clubs. Research by Allies’ Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Vanessa Bouché, reveals that 24% of surveyed survivors experienced trafficking in a strip club, and our database of federally prosecuted human trafficking cases contains many instances where strip clubs are referenced as a venue. It takes a simple online search to find dozens of news articles reporting on busts of strip clubs due to investigations involving human trafficking.

Based on ample evidence that “adult theaters” are a venue for human trafficking, and knowing that minors and young adults are particularly vulnerable, Florida’s law increased the penalty (from a misdemeanor to a felony) for adult theater owners who fail to confirm that their employees are at least 18. Further, HB 7063, which has been passed by Florida’s legislature and is currently on the Governor’s desk for signature, would raise the eligible age of employment at adult theaters from 18 to 21 as a means of preventing human trafficking.

Texas passed a similar law to HB 7063 in 2021, SB 315, which is currently being challenged in federal courts in the case of Valdez, et al. v. Paxton for violating the First Amendment. While we await a decision in this case, we know that without valid and reliable data and research, laws designed to prevent human trafficking will continue to face constitutional challenges while vulnerable populations face exploitation and perpetrators evade accountability.

At Allies, we know that better data drives effective interventions and changes lives. We see it every day. Our partnership with Florida demonstrates that data also arms us with the evidence we need to craft and defend bullet-proof legislation. Data helps us make an unshakeable stand for freedom and dignity when opposition seeks to undermine those values.