MONTGOMERY — The Sound of Freedom Act unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, bringing it one step closer to final passage.

House Bill 42 (HB42), sponsored by State Rep. Donna Givens (R-Loxley), would establish a minimum punishment of life imprisonment for human trafficking of a minor in Alabama.

The legislation is named after the "Sound of Freedom," a recent hit film that tells the story of Tim Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent who saved children from sex traffickers in Colombia.

Givens told 1819 News Alabama would have the toughest punishment in the nation for human trafficking of minors if her legislation is passed into law.

"I went and saw the movie, and sitting there in the movie, I was like, 'Okay, I've got to do something.' I felt like God was speaking to me, and I just felt like this is something that I needed to do and be very strong about it," Givens said. "I know this sounds like, 'Wow, that's a harsh penalty.' Well, it's a harsh crime. Someone is losing a child, losing their very own child, their loved one over just pure greed because it's a money-making racket. I think tough laws need to be made to stop this. Make someone think twice before they actually would engage in this type of activity.

"You know, I'd love for Alabama to be the leader in this (and) show that we're serious about this horrible crime, that we're serious about stopping it from happening in Alabama…just stepping up and being the leader and saying, 'No, no longer will we know this is happening in our state without us taking a staunch stand against it.'"

The bill received several amendments, clarifying technical language and adding that an attempt to traffic a minor through monetary consideration or any other thing of value would receive the same penalty. Another amendment gave an exception if the trafficker is also a minor. In that case, the punishment would be subject to the same penalties as a Class A felony.

Under the bill, it is not required that the defendant have knowledge of a minor victim's age, nor is a reasonable mistake of age considered a legal defense.

Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jared Hudson joined the meeting to support the legislation. Hudson operates his own organization to rescue human trafficking victims in Alabama called Covenant Rescue Group.

See: Alabama's 'Sound of Freedom': Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jared Hudson works to save human trafficking victims

After passing, committee member State Rep. David Faulkner (R-Hoover) acknowledged both Givens and Hudson, which was seconded by Chairman State Rep. Jim Hill (R-Mody). Both received applause from the audience and committee members.

"I just want to recognize Jared Hudson and Representative Givens; thank you for bringing this bill. And Jared Hudson, for what your organization does in the area of human trafficking, we appreciate you," Faulkner said.

Gov. Kay Ivey also sounded off on Twitter, saying she was "proud" to support the bill.

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