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The NC House passed and sent to the Senate Tuesday legislation that would compensate victims of the state’s forced-sterilization program.

Approval came amid a push by Rep. John Blust to amend House Bill 947 and offer $20,000 to each living survivor of the program, not the $50,000 as earmarked in the legislation.

The Guilford County Republican argued there was no real rationale for the higher sum in a tight budget year, and that social services these individuals had received over the years could be considered a form of compensation.

In the end, Blust’s amendment failed and the compensation bill passed 86-31. The legislation now heads to the state Senate.

To hear Tuesday’s debate over Rep. Blust’s amendment, click below. To see how individual House members voted, click here.

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The conservative leadership in the N.C. General Assembly has been trying to repair its image and dreadful approval ratings in recent months after more than a year of substantive and P.R. disasters. 

Hence, the phenomenon of a group that has made one of its top priorities the repeal of a law known as the Racial Justice Act getting so visible all of a sudden in pushing to jumpstart the long dormant movement to compensate the mostly African-American victims of forced sterilization. When one of your signature causes amounts to harmful and hateful effort to, effectively,  reinstate racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty, your image on issues related to race can use a lot of burnishing.

Unfortunately, as so often happens with a group that’s connected to and reliant upon the far right Tea Party crowd, doing the right thing is not so easy Read More

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Good lord. Do these people hear what they’re saying? According to news reports, several members of the House Judiciary Committee — including Rep. George “There is no extreme poverty in North Carolina” Cleveland – actually opposed a bill to provide compensation to eugenics victims when it came up for a vote in committee yesterday.

According to Raleigh’s News & Observer, Cleveland said that taxpayers should not have to pay for wrongs committed in the past. Wow! One has to wonder just how far Cleveland would be willing to extend that “logic.”

Committee votes are not recorded so it will be interesting to see if the conservative opponents of compensation are willing to actually vote “no” and do it  “on the record”  when the measure comes to the House floor for a vote.

Gov. Bev Perdue has included $10.3 million in her 2012 budget proposal to help compensate people impacted decades ago by the state’s sterilization program.

House Speaker Thom Tillis has also expressed support for a compensation plan. But what remains unclear is if the Republican-led General Assembly will be able to find the funding to provide the recommended lump sum payments of $50,000 for each surviving eugenics victim.

Charmaine Fuller Cooper, executive director of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, is hopeful the short session that begins Wednesday will finally bring meaningful compensation to the nearly 2,000 victims, who may still be alive.

But Fuller Cooper says it would be wrong for lawmakers to take that funding from other support services like in-home care and affordable housing for seniors that many of these eugenics victims are also reliant on.

To hear a portion of our interview with Charmaine Fuller Cooper, click below. To hear the full interview, including her final recommendations for compensation and education, visit the radio interview section of the N.C. Policy Watch website:

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House Speaker Thom Tillis along with Forsyth Co. Rep. Earline Parmon host a Charlotte town hall on eugenics Wednesday evening.

The meeting comes less than a week after the Eugenics Compensation Task Force submitted its final report to the Governor’s office, recommending paying $50,000 to each living victim of the forced sterilization program.

The figure is to be used as a baseline for the Governor and legislators to consider during the short session in May.

Charmaine Fuller Cooper with the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation says in addition to the financial compensation, the state must set aside funds for more aggressive outreach to identify the victims, as well as both permanent and traveling exhibits to educate the public about the defunct program.

Wednesday’s meeting is being held in Charlotte because Mecklenburg County sterilized more people than any other county in North Carolina.

The town hall, which is open to the public and interested media, will get underway at 6:00 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

To hear Charmaine Fuller Cooper discuss the need for continued public education about the forced sterilization program, as well as her concerns that such a tragedy could happen again,  click below:

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