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‘John-Shaming’ bill pocket vetoed by Governor

By CAROLINE BECK and MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Gov. Kay Ivey did not sign a human trafficking bill meant to deter individuals from soliciting prostitutes because of a drafting error that could have weakened its intent, supporters said Tuesday.

House Bill 262 would have prohibited without a court order the publishing of photos of those charged with prostitution, while allowing publication of photos of those charged with soliciting or procuring prostitution.

Ivey’s office said the bill as passed by lawmakers was not the sponsors’ intended legislation.

The bill, nicknamed the “John-shaming” bill, was co-sponsored by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, and Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur.

“We are disappointed that HB262 was not signed, but are thankful for diligence of the governor’s staff in catching the drafting error,” Coleman said in the press release. “I look forward to working more closely with her office and my Republican colleagues on future human trafficking related legislation.”

Under Alabama’s constitution, if a bill is not signed by the governor it fails to become law in what is referred to as a “pocket veto.” Monday was the deadline for Ivey to sign bills passed during the last days of the 2019 Regular Session.

Coleman said she plans on reintroducing the bill next year. Collins said she’s already had conversations with Ivey about next year’s legislation.

House Democrats told Alabama Daily News Tuesday that an error in the bill stemmed from a last-minute amendment from Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, added prior to passage on the last day of the regular session. In a statement, Democrats said Melson intended to protect “innocent Johns” from public exposure.

Melson’s intended amendment would have required a conviction for solicitation before a mugshot could be released.

“I was more worried about wives and kids getting teased at school if dad’s picture was in the paper for an arrest,” Melson said Tuesday. “There could be collateral damage.”

Ivey this week did sign other human trafficking legislation from Coleman and Collins. House Bill 261 requires all new commercial driver licensees to undergo industry-specific human trafficking training. Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization that trains truckers on identifying human trafficking victims, will work with junior colleges and trade schools to facilitate the training.

Alabama is the ninth state to mandate human trafficking training for commercial drivers.

Campaign finance bill dies without signature

One other bill died Monday without Ivey’s signature. House Bill 213, sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham,  was intended to make candidates’ campaign finance spending on elections days more transparent. But a Senate-added amendment inadvertently made it less transparent by pushing back by two days the final reporting day, Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday.

“We did not want that, Rep. Givan did not want that,” Merrill said.

The legislation originated in Merrill’s office.

Givan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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