A central Iowa man is scheduled to testify before a U.S. Senate panel in Washington D.C. this morning on the issue of human trafficking. Michael Ferjak of Des Moines, is a senior criminal investigator with the Iowa Department of Justice and heads the Iowa Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley invited Ferjak to testify before the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, as it considers a pair of bills focused on helping the victims of human trafficking. Grassley says, “He’s been in law enforcement and prosecution for a long period of time and he has this special position in (Attorney General Tom) Miller’s office, there in Des Moines, working on these issues.”
Ferjak is planning to testify about how Iowa law enforcement recognizes the state’s status as a major transportation hub, with crisscrossing interstate highways. He says it requires a transportation-focused approach to prevent human trafficking.
“The whole hearing is devoted to the issue of human trafficking and I want him to bring the Midwestern experience to bare because I think too often we think of this as just a big city issue, like a West Coast or an East Coast or a Chicago issue,” Grassley says. “We want to make sure the rural parts of our country are getting proper attention.” Legislation was introduced by Grassley last week which aims to deter human trafficking. He says it would clarify that federal resources can be used to meet the housing needs of trafficking victims and offer training on the effects of sex trafficking to those who serve runaway, homeless and at-risk youth.
It would update the federal statute that authorizes the cyber tip line of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to ensure child trafficking is specifically mentioned as a form of Internet-related child exploitation. Grassley says the legislation would also require the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to identify best practices to prevent human trafficking. “So we have two bills before the committee,” Grassley says. “I think they’ll be voted out Thursday without too much problem.”
Coincidentally, another Iowan will testify today before another panel at Senator Grassley’s request. Clay Mitchell, of Buckingham, will be speaking before the Senate Agriculture Committee as part of a panel of producers who use various programs in the farm bill. Mitchell’s testimony will focus on the 2014 farm bill and several of its programs including: Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), crop insurance, the Conservation Reserve Program and wetland mitigation. Mitchell owns and farms 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans in northeast Iowa.