Free Minds & Free Markets

Florida Lawmaker Drops Proposal to Let Victims of Sex Trafficking Sue Hotels

Disney allegedly lobbied against the bill behind the scenes.

Florida lawmakers made headlines last month with a proposal to let people sexually exploited in hotel rooms sue the hotel where the abuse took place. The bill would have imposed $50,000 to $100,000 in fines on defendants who lose, in addition to any money awarded to the victim. The legislation had "widespread support, passing three committees without anyone voting against it," according to the Tampa Bay Times. But on Thursday, the bill's sponsor yanked the legislation from current consideration, asking that any further action on it be postponed.

The bill had needed one more committee vote before moving on to the full Senate. But state Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) said that because the bill was unlikely to pass in the House, she didn't want "waste the committee's time" on something with no future.

Reasonable, right? Not to Times reporter Lawrence Mower, who casts Book's move as cowardly kowtowing to the tourism industry. Disney and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association were reportedly lobbying against the bill behind the scenes.

But whatever the senator's motives might have been, the outcome here is undoubtedly a good one.

Allowing the victims of sex trafficking to sue hotels where they were exploited does nothing to prevent exploitation in the first place or to punish those responsible for it. It creates enormous incentives for fraud. It also gives sex traffickers an incentive to avoid hotels and motels in favor of more private places—places where their victims are much less likely to able to make their plight known.

It creates a new imperative for hotel staff to harass innocent customers and invade their privacy. It ensures that sex workers will face more arrests. It defies criminal-justice logic. (After all, we don't allow the families of people murdered in hotels to file such suits.) And it paves the way for more third parties to be held legally liable for the actions of criminals.

Alas, Book promised to revive this terrible idea in the future.

Photo Credit: Cherie Diez/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Simply by reading the headline I just knew the lobbyists for those RAPE CASTLES got to her. She probably allows Uber to drive all over her territory, too.

  • Longtobefree||

    But she was DOING SOMETHING!

    Constitutionality and effectiveness are irrelevant if you DO SOMETHING!

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Thank god for lobbying in this case. Are politicians seriously that stupid? If a hotel is facing te possibility of huge lawsuits, how long before they need to start recording all activity going on in each room so they can protect themselves from liability?

    But I suspect the bill's supporters knew this. These anti-sex types are something else! Did America take some kind of repression pill en masse?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Now you know why democrats have largely dropped their objections to the surveillance state and it's now a bipartisan issue.

  • Eidde||

    So Disney doesn't want light shone into what Snow White and Tinkerbell do in their off hours...

    Oh, dear, I just grossed myself out.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    I heard Snow White was caught on video sitting on Pinocchio's face and yelling 'Lie! Lie!'

  • BYODB||

    Can a woman sex traffic herself? According to law enforcement, yes.

    Does this indicate that women don't have agency since she's victimizing herself and must be saved from her own choices?

    If so, would this have any implications for abortion?

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