House Minority Leader Larry Hall filed a discharge petition Wednesday to force a vote on a eugenics compensation bill that has been buried in a committee.
Hall, a Democrat from Durham, along with several other House Democrats filed House Bill 1241 in May seeking to extend the deadline for submitting eugenics claims by three months.
June 30 was the deadline to file a claim for compensation. But fewer than 600 of the estimated 1,800 living victims had applied by the end of June. The NAACP on June 30 asked the governor and legislative leaders to extend the deadline for a year.
The three-month extension bill was sent to a committee and never discussed. Hall will have to convince 61 of the 120 House members to sign the petition. Since there are only 43 Democrats in the House, that’s unlikely to happen.
If enough signatures are gathered the bill could be brought to a vote of the full House the next day the legislature meets.
“Extending the deadline will ensure that victims of the N.C. eugenics program are provided additional fairness and ample time to be educated about the process and properly file a claim,” Hall said in a statement released Wednesday. “These citizens have suffered for decades, and justice and decency demand that they have a few additional months to file a claim ensuring the state responds to them. It is a real travesty that Republican leadership refused to hear my bill in committee and bring it to the floor for a vote.”
In response to the NAACP demand last month, representatives of House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory said extending the deadline would delay payments. They defended the state’s efforts to find potential victims to submit claims.