Columbus -- Men or women who solicit minors for sex will now face heavier criminal penalties, under a new state law.
The changes outlined in House Bill 130, the "End Demand Act," took effect June 20 after Gov. John Kasich signed it as part of a Columbus-area Salvation Army event. It's the latest legislation finalized by the governor and lawmakers in recent years to clamp down on what's referred to as modern day slavery.
"Today, we make a statement that human trafficking has no place in Ohio," said Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) primary sponsor of new law. "… It is a human rights violation, and we are determined in Ohio and in this nation to stand up for what is right."
HB 130 makes soliciting a minor for sex for pay a felony crime rather than a misdemeanor. Other law changes include allowing closed-circuit testimony from minor victims as part of human trafficking legal proceedings, terminating parental rights of those convicted of trafficking their children, prohibiting sex-for-hire advertisements and extending the statute of limitations on related crimes.
The legislation passed the House and Senate on unanimous votes with an emergency clause, meaning it took effect as soon as Kasich added his signature.
"I think we're one of the great leaders in the country on this issue," Kasich said.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.