By Rep. Karl Rhoads
Governor Lingle yesterday signed a bill into law that creates a new offense of "habitual solicitation of prostitution." It will now be a misdemeanor if the person pays, agrees to pay, or offers to pay a fee to another person to engage in sexual conduct, and has two or more specified prior offenses related to prostitution within ten years of the instant offense. The new law, House Bill 3002/Act 192, went into effect upon approval yesterday, and it sunsets in 2010.
I am very happy that the Governor signed my anti-prostitution bill, HB 3002, into law. Prostitution has been a plague on the Downtown and Chinatown area for years. The drug use and violence that goes along with prostitution has endangered all area residents.
During the 2008 legislative session, the bill was referred to as the "Eliot Spitzer" bill, alluding to the case of New York's former governor who resigned in March 2008 after he was linked as a client to a prostitution ring under investigation by the federal government.
As a 12-year Chinatown resident, I see first hand the negative impact of prostitution upon the community. The legislation, while not a panacea, will reduce prostitution. It will also make those who prey on the most vulnerable of society think twice about what they are doing.
HB 3002 will raise the stakes for those who habitually go to prostitutes. For the prostitutes themselves, the law remains the same. For their customers, the penalty for a third and subsequent conviction will be 12 times greater than it is now.