The McCain Institute embarked upon a Mountain States Initiative committed to contributing to strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, including its implementation, in Arizona and the greater Mountain States. We partnered with Polaris, as well as other local, state, and national anti-trafficking organizations, to achieve this end.

Convening a dedicated community to combat human trafficking was fundamental to the Mountain States Initiative. Cindy McCain’s appointment by Arizona Governor Brewer as co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking represented a powerful first step, which led to the formation of 27 specific recommendations to target human trafficking in Arizona. The McCain Institute coordinated with Polaris and the Arizona Governor’s Office to provide human trafficking education to members of the state legislature, and, in 2014, The McCain Institute advised on and welcomed the newly enacted legislation, Arizona House Bill 2454. This legislation increased penalties against offenders and created protective measures for those victimized and vulnerable to trafficking. Outside of Arizona, the Mountain States Initiative supported legislative advancements in Colorado and South Dakota.

Through stakeholder engagement and analysis of state-specific legislative reports, the Institute identified North Dakota and Montana as additional priority areas for the second year of the Initiative, while continuing to provide technical support to Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Utah. The subsequent work lead to the passage of 26 anti-trafficking bills in the region. The final report of the Mountain States Initiative can be found here.