TOLEDO: Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that increases penalties for human trafficking and creates a fund to help victims.

Kasich signed the measure Wednesday in Toledo. The law takes effect immediately. It makes human trafficking a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Thatís tougher than the second-degree felony that the state Legislature established in late 2010 to tackle whatís described as modern-day slavery.

Victims of human trafficking are often forced into the sex trade or pushed to work against their will in sweatshop-type jobs.

The law also creates a path for victims to have their records expunged if they have prostitution or solicitation charges as a result of being forced into the sex trade.

The General Assembly passed the measure with unanimous votes.