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Nevada Senate panel told how bill targets prostitution solicitors

CARSON CITY — Assembly Bill 260 is aimed squarely at the demand side of Nevada’s sex trafficking problem: solicitors of prostitutes.

The bill, heard Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, increases fines and penalties for being a customer of illegal prostitution and offers rehabilitation programs for first-time offenders.

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno, told lawmakers she’s sponsoring the bill because it’s needed to “take a look at the demand side of the equation.” She noted that the state’s work on the issue has been primarily aimed at sex traffickers.

A joint sponsor of the bill, Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, said people soliciting sex often do not comprehend how they are contributing to the problem.

Under the bill, courts are required to give offenders a civil penalty of at least $200 per offense. That money would be used by counties and cities for treatment programs required for people convicted of soliciting.

If a first-time offender successfully participates in a treatment program, then the case is dismissed and the records sealed, according to the proposal. The state Division of Parole and Probation would keep a confidential record of dismissals to ensure nobody has a second conviction removed.

The civil penalty is in addition to a fine of at least $400 for first-time offenders; at least $800 for a second offense; and at least $1,300 for offenses that happen the third time or beyond.

Supporters included the Metropolitan Police Department and Nevada District Attorneys Association.

The committee did not take action on the bill, which the Assembly passed unanimously.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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