It was a different kind setting from the usual bill signing ceremony, but Mayor Michael signed a bill to strengthen penalties against cabbies who knowingly work with sex traffickers on Friday morning.
He signed the bill during his weekly WOR radio show, after some back and forth on the merits of the bill.
He was expected to sign the bill on Wednesday, but Bloomberg said that he wanted more time to consider the bill. As he explained on the show, “I just didn’t understand it and I said ‘I'm not going to sign it [Wednesday].’ And I told everybody I would probably sign it by Friday, but I want to go back and understand it more.” He added the more he read it and understood the bill, the more he liked it.
Among concerns raised whether taxi drivers would be afraid or refused to pick up passengers who were dressed provocatively or wear risqué outfits.
“A driver doesn't have to know and shouldn't have to decide,” Bloomberg explained. “There's no penalty for transporting a prostitute or a decoy, but only for knowingly engaging in a sex trafficking operation.”
While it’s already illegal to knowingly participate in trafficking, the new law imposes a $10,000 fine on drivers who are convicted of a felony related to sex trafficking. The cabbies would also lose their Taxi and Limousine Commission licenses.
The law also provides training and education for drivers on sex trafficking.
The bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras was also on the program and was pleased that the mayor signed.
She echoed the mayor’s comments that the bill was not aimed at discouraging cabbies from picking up women, but for “for unscrupulous drivers that hide behind the license and that are using these you girls as young as 12 to deliver them to johns. And this is to be able to add another level of protection against these [drivers].”