This week is the first one when members of the Texas Legislature can introduce legislation for the new session and State Sen. Sylvia Garcia has introduced a bill to require that applicants for commercial driver licenses take a course on identifying and reporting human trafficking.
Garcia thinks teaching these professionals about this type of crime would be productive because “we have almost 200,000 truck drivers in the state of Texas that can be our eyes and ears on the road and in places like motels and truck stops and restaurants, where victims are being exploited every day.”
The Democrat senator says staff from the Texas Department of Public Safety would teach the course.
If her bill becomes law, not only new applicants for a commercial license would have to take it, but also truck drivers that would be renewing their licenses.
Minal Patel Davis is Mayor Sylvester Turner’s special advisor on human trafficking and she says there are some key signs that can help identify potential victims.
“At truck stops in particular, I think you can look for people that are dressed in a way that may not be suitable to the weather, things like that. Oftentimes, when you are seeing them, they are going to be selling commercial sex,” Patel Davis explained at the press conference held in southeast Houston where Garcia, who represents District 6, announced her bill.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, just last year there were more than 5,000 cases of human trafficking in the United States.
The Texas Trucking Association is in favor of the bill introduced by Garcia, who is confident it can gather bipartisan support in Austin.
The 85th legislative session begins next January.