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The “Pimp Protectors”: TX GOP Members Block Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill

Veteran State Representative Senfronia Thompson (HD141—Houston) filed what by every measure was considered an important but non-controversial bill to crack down on human sex trafficking. The bill, HB 2629, allowed training for cosmetologists to identify signs of human trafficking and to report any problems they observed to local law enforcement. There was no opposition to the bill as Rep. Thompson guided it through the committee process for quick passage in the House before it would go to the Senate for adoption without opposition.

Incredibly, however, five junior House Republican members teamed up to kill the Thompson bill. Their move blocked Representative Thompson’s important effort to find, catch and lock-up pimps, perverts and other criminals who victimize young vulnerable Texans.

The “Pimp Protectors”

The five Republican members – Kyle Biedermann (HD73 – Fredericksburg), Matt Rinaldi (HD115 – Irving), Tony Tinderholt (HD94 – Arlington), Matt Shaheen (HD66 – Plano) and Matt Schaefer (HD6 – Tyler) – used an obscure legislative procedure to knock Rep. Thompson’s sex trafficking bill off the Local and Consent Calendar, which is a House calendar reserved for uncontroversial bills with broad support from members of both parties.

So why did five backbench Republicans block an important bill that virtually every other House member supported? They are on a meaningless crusade to disrupt House operations by using stall tactics and other procedural moves to draw attention to themselves and their off-the-edge ideological views.

The five have given themselves the self-important title, the “Freedom Caucus.” Given that their move to block the Thompson bill does nothing but help vile human traffickers sexually exploit and abuse young Texans, the name they’ve earned is “Pimp Protectors.”

HB 2629 is good public policy

Often, cosmetologists learn personal and important details about their customers that can be essential in the fight against both human trafficking and abuse. Training Texas cosmetologists to spot the signs of human trafficking and report what they’ve seen to local authorities makes good sense and is good public policy.

Last year, the State of Ohio passed similar requirements to train cosmetologists to spot the signs of trafficking, and the State of Illinois recently passed legislation to require cosmetologists receive training to spot signs of domestic abuse.

Rep. Thompson noted after her bill was blocked that, “Every woman in here who goes to the beauty shop talks to their beautician. You talk about things that are personable; they're the best psychologists I know and you tell them things. Maybe that person who is a victim cannot call the 800 number that would be in that beauty shop but she can relate to that beautician. Or there may be signs of that person that the beautician picks up that this person is a victim of human trafficking…and when they leave they can call and say ,‘this person was here in my beauty shop, and they left in such and such a car and this person brings her every week or every two weeks to my beauty shop’…”

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