MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Sound of Freedom Act, which would require a life sentence for those convicted of human trafficking minors.

Sponsored by State Rep. Donna Givens (R-Loxley), House Bill 42 (HB42) 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.

The bill received several amendments in committee, 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.

Givens presented the bill before the House on Tuesday. Several Democratic lawmakers used debate time to complain about their own bills not getting deliberated.

"In my comments, I commended you on your efforts, but I feel that my bill is just as important," said State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham).

Some Republican lawmakers praised the bill. State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) called the bill "so important" and said that drawing more attention to the issue of trafficking minors would assist in its eradication.

State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity) thanked Givens for "speaking for those who can't always speak for themselves."

During the debate, Givens stated she wanted Alabama to lead the way with the legislation to address an ongoing national crisis.

'I am in hopes that once they learn that Alabama is taking this seriously and is not playing games with human trafficking any longer, they will avoid Alabama," Givens said. "But I am also in hopes that other states will follow suit. That Alabama will be number one in this and be the leader, and the other states will follow suit, and we can work to clean this up because it's just growing up."

The bill passed with a vote of 102-0. It will now go to the Senate for deliberation.

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

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

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