January 28, 2015

TO: Senate Judiciary Committee
FROM: Stacey Pfliiger, Associate
SUBJ: Senate Bill 2199

Chairman Hogue and Members of the Committee, my name is Stacey Pfliiger and I am here on behalf of the North Dakota Catholic Conference. The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports SB 2199 and urges a do pass recommendation.

As a just society, it is imperative that we develop a victims treatment program that supports victims of this modern day slavery. The needs of human trafficking victims are very different than any other victim of any other crime. Often times victims are NOT willing to trust, so a lot of time and energy is expended on building relationships until that victim feels secure enough to leave the abusive situation.

The professions identified in Senate Bill 2199 are all important components to help identify and combat human trafficking in North Dakota. Uniform protocols from crisis intervention, to law enforcement, to advocacy, to sheltering, to prosecution are imperative while supporting victims and promoting positive outcomes.

To ensure that state-funded victim services are conducted in a manner consistent with our state’s values, the North Dakota Catholic Conference asks that Senate Bill 2199 be amended to ensure that state taxpayer dollars are not used in the program to counsel or refer for abortions. Current law contains a general prohibition on using state funds to pay for the performance of an abortion, but the restrictions on the use of state funds for counseling and referrals are piecemeal and apply only to specific programs. To make the services created through SB 2199 consistent with those other provisions, an amendment to the bill is needed. [See attached proposed amendment.]

The North Dakota Catholic Conference urges a DO PASS recommendation on Senate Bill 2199.