A bill to compensate eugenics victims was introduced in the North Carolina Senate Thursday after its inclusion in Gov. Pat McCrory's two-year budget proposal for state government.
Sen. Floyd McKissick, a co-sponsor of S.B. 464, predicted the passage of some form of compensation package this year in an interview with WNCN.
"I am optimistic we will see some form of compensation package passed to address this issue this year, whether it will be the bill I have on file … or whether it's some other version of that," he said.
The eugenics program sterilized estimates of 7,600 North Carolinians between 1929 and 1974. Many of these victims were minorities, lower-income or mentally ill, and sterilized against their will.
McKissick described the bill as having a good framework and the support of both House Speaker Thom Tillis and McCrory. But a similar compensation bill failed to pass the Senate last summer.
When asked about the previous failure of the bill, McKissick identified several key factors that have changed since last summer.
"When the bill got to the Senate, certain members, particularly those recently elected, felt there were other, more pressing issues from a financial perspective," he said.
This time around, McKissick believes the bill stands a better chance because the growing state budget may diminish these financial concerns.
McCrory has proposed to increase the state budget from $20.2 billion to $20.6 billion.
Another contributing factor to the potential success of the bill is the absence of a formidable opponent.
"One of the members that was most adamantly opposed is no longer with us," McKissick said. Furthermore, some recently elected members in the Senate may be more open to addressing this issue, he said.
Despite optimism about the passage of a compensation package, McKissick could not say how the bill will actually reach the Senate for a vote. The compensation could be voted on individually or as part of the overall budget.
Whatever form it takes, McKissick predicts this issue will reach the Senate floor toward the end of session.
"Whatever progress we can make will be positive momentum in the right direction," he said.