Update: Senate Finance cancels hearing on operating budget

The Senate Finance Committee was expected to take up amendments  to the $9. 9 billion state operating budget on Monday afternoon, but the hearing was cancelled.

The committee took public testimony over the weekend, with First Lady Sandy Parnell asking members to restore $ 827,200 to the Department of Public Safety for a sex-trafficking investigative unit.  A subcommittee recommends denying the governor’s request for new troopers because there hadn’t been a single investigation in the last year.

The reason given for cutting the funding, however, is exactly why the funding is needed,” Sandy Parnell told the Finance Committee.  “Because sex trafficking is a hidden crime that must be unearthed by investigators.  Its victims do not self-report.  We have lots of sexual assault case investigations initiated after a report is made, but in commercial sex industry cases, this doesn’t happen.  These girls are under extreme control of their captors, both physically and mentally.”

In her testimony, Parnell said troopers’ lack of experience and training in that area results in a failure to recognize signs of trafficking.