Let Your Families Defend Your Profession

In this blog I was originally going to tell you about this article from the Des Moines Register newspaper about proposed legislation giving the deceased the right to control their final disposition. Most people don’t realize that in several states one can determine who gets their kids, money, property, insurance proceeds, etc. but they can’t determine, even with a pre-need funeral policy, what their final disposition will be. A person can purchase a pre-need arrangement for a cremation, but after the death occurs, the next of kin can say, “I don’t like cremation, she’s going to be buried.” And guess what? She will be buried, not cremated as she wished. Several states including Colorado have already passed a similar bill to the Iowa proposed legislation.

But I changed my mind, that’s not what you really need to know about the article. I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern with on-line end of life articles, including this one. People can post comments regarding the content of the article. What I’m seeing over and over again, are a consumer and an end of life professional having it out, back and forth, arguing what one said isn’t true, practically attacking each other. How is that helping end of life professionals? As soon as I read, “I’m a funeral director…” or “I’m a hospice nurse….” I think, “Here we go again….” I understand that people want to defend themselves and their profession when attacked, but it only makes them and their profession look worse. As I keep reading through the comments, there is inevitably another consumer, just as in this article, that says, “Hey, I’ve made funeral arrangements in several different towns and states and have always been treated respectfully by the funeral director.”

A newspaper is a public forum, let the public make their comments and let one consumer disagree with another. The lesson, if you have done your job well, served your family with total commitment and professionalism, then you don’t have to defend yourself or your profession, your families will defend it for you. And how much more powerful is it to the public when it comes from them and not you!

House Committee Votes to Pass the Bill

On February 4, 2008 the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee voted 7 to 4 to pass HB 08-1123 and send it to the House Appropriations Committee with a favorable recommendation.

What happens next:

• The House Appropriations Committee will vote soon (date to be determined) after reviewing the fiscal impact of the bill. There is no testimony on the bill at that time as it is evaluated not on merit, but from a financial impact.

• If the House Appropriations Committee passes the bill then it goes to the floor of House for a final reading and where all of the Representatives will be given the opportunity to vote in favor of or opposition of the bill.

• If the bill passes the House then it moves to the Senate. There Senator Johnson will introduce it on the Senate floor, it gets assigned a Senate Committee, and the process begins again only in the Senate.

• If the bill passes on the Senate floor then it is considered as having passed both chambers and unless the Governor vetoes the bill, then it becomes law on July 1, 2008.

As in common in politics several amendments have been made to the bill. This is not the final version, but to download the current working version, Click Here.

House Business Affairs and Labor Committee Testimony

On January 31, 2008 the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee heard testimony on HB08-1123. However, they did not vote on the bill at that time. Here’s the status of the bill:

After the initial bill was introduced, there were two major amendments which needed to be added to the bill. A major player in the Colorado Funeral Service Industry submitted a multiple page amendment to the bill that would specifically address the issue of cremation including definitions, authorization to cremate, and cremation procedures. It was not submitted in time for the State bill writer to evaluate and include the amendments into the bill. The second amendments came by way of DORA, the Department of Regulatory Agencies. A representative from DORA took a position yesterday that they could not support the bill as written. Remember that DORA recommended a registration system, not licensure, which is what HB08-2133 recommends. There were also several pieces of technical language which DORA needed added to the bill before they would consider supporting it.

The State bill writer will add the appropriate amendments to the bill over the weekend, the amended bill will be delivered immediately to the committee members, and on Monday, February 3, 2008 at 1:30 P.M., the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will review the final version of the bill and vote to pass or kill the bill.

Several people from the funeral industry testified in favor of the bill on January 31st . One piece of testimony given by Representative Stafford provided a staggering statistic. She stated that in 1982 when licensure of funeral service was sunsetted there were 175 registered funeral directors/embalmers. Currently the Colorado Office of Vital Records has 1,216 people registered as funeral directors able to sign death certificates.

Click here to read the fiscal impact statement on HB08-1123.