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      Lawmaker looking to crack down on prostitution

      Columbia Rep. Leon Howard has proposed sharply increasing the penalties for soliciting prostitutes.

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- A Columbia lawmaker wants to crack down on the world's oldest profession.

      Particularly for those seeking the services of a prostitute.

      The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Friday that Columbia Rep. Leon Howard has proposed sharply increasing the penalties for soliciting prostitutes. Howard's bill would make a third offense a felony, with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

      Howard says the bill would reduce a problem that ties up police and contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

      Related Stories Police: Upstate Woman Traded Daughter For Drugs Ex-porn star, stripper to speak at Upstate church Sunday Prostitution round-up results in dozens of arrests

      According to FBI statistics between 2001 and 2007 South Carolina averaged 650 prostitution/commercialized vice arrests each year.

      Currently soliciting a prostitute is a misdemeanor with a penalty of 30 days in jail or a $200 fine. A third offense raises the fine to $3,000 and at least a year in prison.

      You can read the whole bill on the State House website.

      What do you think about the proposal to increase penalties for soliciting prostitutes? Vote in our daily web poll below and leave a comment to weigh in. Check back on your WACH Fox News to see if we share what you have to say.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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