ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)--IT’S CALLED THE SEX TRADE SURVIVORS JUSTICE AND EQUALITY ACT—A BILL THAT TRIES TO ADDRESS PROSTITUTION BY ENSURING PEOPLE INVOLVED IN PROSTITUTION ARE NOT PROSECUTED – BUT ARE INSTEAD SUPPORTED WITH COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES SUCH AS HOUSING AND TRAUMA-INFORMED MEDICAL CARE.  

THE bill WOULD ALSO ENACT STRICT PENALTIES FOR PIMPS, SEX BUYERS, AND TRAFFICKERS.  
 
“We need to make this measure a reality in law to combat the continuing problems. Sex trafficking victimizes people,” said Sen. John Liu (D-16th Senate District).
 
SOME ADVOCATES SAid THIS BILL PUTS SURVIVORS FIRST.  
 
“For far too long our state has turned a blind eye to the abuse and trauma that survivors have faced by criminalizing us, offering impunity to those who target us and not doing its part to protect us before, during or after our exploitation. And quite frankly, I am sick of it,” said Melanie Thompson, an advocate and survivor of sex trafficking.
 
THE OTHER BILL IS CALLED THE STOP VIOLENCE IN THE SEX TRADES ACT– AND IT WOULD DECRIMINALIZE PROSTITUTION AND SEX WORK.  
 
SOME LAWMAKERS SAY THE BILL WOULD effectively LEGALIZE PROSTITUTION -- WHILE ALSO MAKING IT MORE CHALLENGING TO HOLD SEX BUYERS ACCOUNTABLE.  
 
“It doesn’t stop them when you have complete legalization,” said Assembly Member Amy Paulin (D-Assembly District 88).
 
Other lawmakers said BOTH BILLS HAVE SIMILAR GOALS BUT SIMPLY DIFFERENT PATHS TO GET THERE. 
 
“The intent is certainly to actually support individuals who voluntarily participate in the sex industry and also survivors of sex trafficking,” said Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18th Senate District). 
 
CURRENTLY BOTH BILLS ARE STILL IN COMMITTEES.