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House eugenics bill gives $50,000 to victims

A House bill  introduced Wednesday would offer $50,000 to people ordered sterilized under the authority of the state Eugenics Board. The board authorized thousands of sterilizations from 1933 to 1974. Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat, has been working for years for victim compensation.  House Speaker Thom Tillis took up the cause last year.

Under the bill, the state Industrial Commission would determine individuals' eligibilty.  Eligible people would receive the $50,000 tax free. An initial committee meeting on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday.

Yet more House bills from day two

Several more House bills were filed this afternoon:

H.B. 21: Eugenics Program - Support and Education, Reps. Larry Womble, Ronnie Sutton, Earline Parmon and Martha Alexander

H.B. 22: Enhance Youth Employment Protections, Reps. Jennifer Weiss, Melanie Wade Goodwin, Paul Luebke, Angela Bryant

H.B. 23: Strengthen Child Labor Violation Penalties, Reps. Weiss, Luebke, Bryant and Goodwin

H.B. 24: Funds for Cochlear Implants / CASTLE, Rep. Verla Insko

H.B. 25: Clarify SCFAC Appointments, Rep. Insko

H.B. 26: Stay Beach Plan Rates, Deductible Surcharges, Reps. Timothy Spear, Carolyn Justice

Bill would compensate sterilization victims

Larry WombleA bill filed today would give victims of the state's sterilization program $20,000 each.

The legislation, filed by four House Democrats, would make one-time cash payments to the estimated 2,000 to 2,800 North Carolinians sterilized by a state eugenics program that ran from 1929 through the 1970s.

The total cost could be between $40 and $56 million.

Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat and one of the primary sponsors, said that he expects a lot of resistance from legislators worried about the state's potential $2 billion shortfall. But he said compensation is the right thing to do.

"The state committed a wrong against innocent people," he said. "This was worse than Nazi Germany."

A working committee came up with the figure on its own, since it could not find any similar compensation efforts to model. Womble said that he considers it far too low, but it was the best they could do.

"There is no amount of money that can restore their dignity or replace what the state took away from them," he said. "Their bloodline has been cut. They cannot continue their family name because the state did this horrific thing to the insides of their bodies." 

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