The General Assembly moved through much important legislation this week, including a landmark effort to compensate people who were forcibly sterilized through the state’s eugenics program between 1929 and 1974. We also approved legislation to modernize the state’s Emergency Management Act. The majority again passed a bill that would prevent criminal defendants from seeking relief from the courts if they could prove that their prosecution or sentencing was tainted by racism.
The Senate is now in the process of considering the state budget. We have heard little about their plan. I do know that the budget passed by the majority in the House of Representatives sets up our schools for failure in this coming year and continues to endanger our economic recovery. In addition to failing to bring back any of the roughly 6,000 educators who lost their jobs last year, the budget leaves schools with $30 million less this year than they had last year. This cut will impact every district in our state and damage their abilities to produce graduates capable of competing in today’s job market.
The eugenics compensation program approved this week allows qualified individuals who were sterilized by the Eugenics Board of N.C. to receive $50,000 in compensation. I am proud to say that I voted for this program that will provide these individuals that with a small piece of compensation for losing their abilities to reproduce at the hands of the state. The bipartisan legislation (H947) follows years of hard work by many dedicated legislators. The state’s eugenics program ran from 1929 to 1974 and forcibly sterilized many people who were considered unfit to bear children. Most of them were poor women. This program will hopefully put a dark part of our state’s past behind us and will serve as further apology to those people harmed by this horrific program.
Democratic members of the General Assembly gathered Tuesday to stand up for women’s health and against the continued assault on women and families by the majority in the legislature. Women have disproportionately borne the brunt of budget cuts in the past year, and women have been singled out for cuts to services and for restrictions on their rights to make choices about their health care. The budget proposed by the House this year further limits the ability of health departments to use Planned Parenthood for preventive health care and reduces the amount of money available to reduce the state’s infant mortality rate. The budget also has nearly $100 million less for programs for at-risk preschoolers and $9 million less for child care subsidies for working families and students. Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced a joint bill to restore funding for Planned Parenthood. They also introduced The Women’s Right to Choose Act to repeal an invasive bill that requires doctors to read a state-written script to their patients who seek abortions and requires women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. The budget also cuts money for the state’s Rape Crisis Centers and the N.C. Council for Women.
The House overwhelmingly passed legislation that set forth the authority and responsibility of the governor, state agencies and local governments to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from natural and man-made emergencies. This bill (H843) clarifies the authority of the Secretary of Public Safety, the Division of Emergency Management and other entities. It also sets out procedures for gubernatorial or legislative declaration of state emergency. The bill will allow for more effective and efficient delivery of relief to the citizens of North Carolina in the event of an emergency.
Along with Representative Craig Horn and Representative Justin Burr, I sponsored a House bill to allow Union County to construct new facilities for human services and a sheriff’s office and jail complex using a design-build method. Such a bill will allow the county commissioners to build these new facilities more quickly, efficiently and economically. The bill was reported out of committee on Thursday and will proceed on through the House.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the General Assembly. Please let me know if I can be of service to you or your family.