MIAMI
01/23/2013 09:22 am ET Updated Mar 25, 2013

Massage Parlor Curfew: Rep. Dave Kerner Sponsors Florida Bill Targeted To Stop Human Trafficking

Looking for a hand to relieve some late-night tension? A Florida lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would ban just that.

Last Wednesday a subcommittee in the Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure that places a curfew on Florida massage parlors, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Such legislation, the first to be voted on by a House committee for the 2013 session, would require that the state's massage parlors close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Lawmakers hope the measure will stem prostitution and human sex trafficking, according to the Sentinel, which cites a Backpage.com 'body rubs' ad for a Sunrise spa that advertises "Sexy girls!!!" as well as "prostate relaxation."

“This bill is not a partisan issue." remarked bill sponsor Rep. Dave Kerner (D-Lake Worth) to WFSU. "We’ve all got members in our community who are being subjected to a horrendous way of life, servitude and sexual trafficking and this bill is designed to prevent that.”

"It's great news that Florida is continuing to take steps to curb human trafficking," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) to Sunshine State News. "Too often, the legitimate practice of massage therapy has been used as a front for illicit and illegal brothels that have become hotbeds for trafficking, so now we're taking steps to starve those brothels of cash."

While human trafficking remains a contentious issue, political strategist and HuffPost blogger Steven Kurlander sees the legislation as ineffective.

"While prostitution is a moral crime that will always continue in one form or another and should be legalized, sanitized, taxed and controlled, human slavery violates basic constitutional and human rights precepts and can't be tolerated at all. It's much more than arresting johns and sanctioning massage parlors," wrote Kurlander.

Yet Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, "we are seeing a pattern of crime that would indicate that this bill is a significant move in the right direction," although she was unwilling to cite any specifics of ongoing trafficking investigations.

If the bill passes in both state chambers and is approved by Gov. Rick Scott, Florida massage parlors will see shorter hours effective October 1, 2013.

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