The Missouri House has endorsed legislation that strengthens the penalties for human trafficking.
The measure would allow longer maximum prison terms for offenses such as trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation.
House members gave the bill first-round approval Wednesday. It needs another vote before moving to the Senate.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Anne Zerr, of St. Charles, who says trafficking in sex and forced labor has become too common in Missouri. She highlighted several recent Missouri cases.
House leaders have said strengthening human trafficking laws is a priority for them this year.