MINNEAPOLIS -- Some of the most in influential decision makers in America have converged on the Minneapolis Convention Center this week for the National Conference of State Legislatures annual convention.
And that provided the perfect opportunity for a political odd couple, of sorts, to promote laws cracking down on human trafficking.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and Cindy McCain, an Arizona Republican, came calling on lawmakers in hopes getting their full attention.
"We really want to get the action going, and there couldn't be a better thing than a conference like this one," Sen. Klobuchar told KARE.
Klobuchar and McCain held a panel discussion and later met with smaller groups of lawmakers, urging them to pass bills similar to one that became law in Minnesota in August, that provides a safe harbor that can help girls escape from sexual slavery.
"And it really not only getting them a life, but helping them to turn on those pimps that are running the rings," Klobuchar, a former county prosecutor, explained.
McCain, who has made the human trafficking issue a priority at the McCain Institute, said she greatly appreciated Klobuchar's public role in promoting model legislation.
"This is not a partisan issue. It's a basic human rights issue and it's child abuse," McCain explained.
McCain's also pressing the NFL and other professional sports leagues to take more of a leadership role in combating sex traffickers. A study funded by McCain's think tank found an uptick of prostitution ads in recent Super Bowls. Some of the ads even appealed directly to ticket holders and other sports tourists.
"We're not talking about the players. It has everything to do with the fact that large sporting events draw this kind of activity, and we want the traffickers to know that the leagues don't put up with it either!"
McCain's has asked the NFL to choose states with strong anti-trafficking laws to host events like the Super Bowl.
"It's about making sure that part of their protocols for choosing a city for a Super Bowl or an NBA All-Star game include strong human trafficking laws, so that families and children coming to these games can be safe," McCain said.
Minnesota, which will host the 2018 Super Bowl would make the cut under that criteria. As of Aug. 1 juvenile girls rescued from sex traffickers are now regarded as victims rather than juvenile delinquents or prostitution suspects.
Klobuchar is sponsoring legislation that would provide states with grants to help implement the new laws.
"We know that 80 percent of sex trafficking victims are from the United States," Klobuchar said. "If our country can get its act together and show we take this seriously it's going to make it a lot easier for us to go to the international community and say this has to stop."
The Uniform Law Commission is providing model legislation to states as part of an effort to battle sexual slavery.
One of the commission's staff members said he'll soon be meeting with lawmakers in North Dakota, where the oil boom as created an influx of single men targeted as customers for human traffickers.