The N.C. House voted 100-11 Monday to allow four county governments to compensate victims of forced sterilization – expanding a program to help people who were sterilized by state government.
Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, an Apex Republican and sponsor of a bill calling for the expansion, said he estimates “a couple dozen” people haven’t been eligible for the state compensation program. “A few people have fallen through the legal cracks,” because the state’s Eugenics Board wasn’t responsible for their plight, he said.
Surviving victims of the state program received $50,000 from the state. The board wasn’t responsible for some of the people sterilized at the Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, as well as those sterilized by Mecklenburg County health officials.
Mecklenburg County commissioners recently took a unanimous vote to support a local compensation bill, and Wake County leaders say they’d consider a similar program. Mecklenburg records indicate there are six surviving residents who were ineligible for state compensation because they were sterilized under the authority of a local board. The county’s plan would offer them $50,000 each, with total compensation capped at $300,000.
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Lawmakers set aside $10 million in 2013 to compensate victims of the state’s eugenics program, but the reparations didn’t go to people who were forcibly sterilized by county governments. From 1929 to 1974, nearly 7,600 people were sterilized under orders from North Carolina’s Eugenics Board, often because they were deemed mentally ill or too poor to have children.
Stam’s bill now heads to the Senate.
In other action Monday in the General Assembly:
Gun bill likely dead: A House leader said he doesn’t think legislators will take action on a controversial bill to end the state’s permitting requirements for people who want to carry a concealed weapon.
Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, filed the “Gun Rights Amendment” last Thursday. It would ask voters in the November election if they support a constitutional ban on concealed weapon permit regulations. The bill garnered more notice Monday in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and gun control supporters started a petition drive to oppose the measure.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore referred the gun bill to the Rules Committee on Monday night. That committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, said he doesn’t expect to hold a hearing or vote on the bill this year because legislators are busy crafting a budget.
Pittman’s plan would leave the concealed carry permit process in place for anyone who needs a permit while traveling in other states. It would leave other regulations governing concealed weapons in place – allowing private businesses that serve alcohol to ban them, and continuing bans in courthouses and the State Capitol.
“I believe that criminals do not obey any of our gun laws, anyway, and that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the only permit an honest citizen needs to carry concealed weapons,” Pittman wrote in an email to House members last week.
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence said the constitutional amendment “would pose increased risks of handgun injuries and fatalities on city streets and in crowds in town centers.”
Hemp farming moves forward: The House voted 108-2 to approve additional regulations for aspiring hemp growers.
Lawmakers made industrial hemp a legal crop last year, but a regulatory commission must still be developed before farmers can plant the first seeds.
The bill would add four more people to the five-member Industrial Hemp Commission charged with developing a permitting process for hemp farms. It adds law enforcement to the hemp permitting process, requiring the new commission to notify the State Bureau of Investigation, sheriff’s departments and police about the location of all approved hemp farms. Those agencies would be allowed to inspect hemp operations at any time, and farmers would be required to maintain production records.
An amendment added to the bill Monday night would limit the amount of land that can be used for hemp farming. In the first year of the program, each farmer would be limited to 50 acres of hemp, with a cap of 2,500 acres statewide.
Squatting penalties: The Senate voted 45-0 to toughen penalties for people who take up residence in foreclosed homes and file fake legal documents to stay there.
Sen. Stan Bingham, a Davidson County Republican, said his legislation addresses news reports about “sovereign citizens” who move in illegally and refuse to leave. Bingham’s bill would make it a felony for someone to file false liens on property or occupy property they’d previously been evicted from.