Propositions

Death Care Issues and Legislation

Proposition:

“The Federal Death Care Inspection and Disclosure Act,” first introduced two years ago by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), was reintroduced by the lawmaker in final days of the last congressional session.

“I hope that we will be able to move on this issue when we reconvene for the 109th Congress,” Dodd stated.  “It is my firm belief that this bill will help both consumers and industry.  Consumers will have the peace of mind knowing that they are being treated fairly during their time of grief and distress, while the industry will benefit from regaining the high level of consumer confidence and trust that has been traditionally enjoyed.” 

Dodd’s two-part bill calls for a grant program that would enable states to hire and train funeral home, cemetery and crematory inspectors, and hire consumer advocates to resolve disputes between consumers and death care providers. It also would convert the FTC Funeral Rule (see Funeral Basics Fact Sheet) into a federal statute that could be amended by Congress.

Dodd’s proposal, S.3023, which expired when Congress adjourned in December 2004, must be reintroduced in order to be considered this year.  Its companion bill, H.R. 4112, was initiated in April 2004 by U.S. Representative Mark Foley (R-FL).   

Reality:

Neither the Dodd nor Foley bills identify any consumer problems or offer any solutions.  They merely create a new federal bureaucracy that would use taxpayer money to regulate funerals, burials, and cremations which are already regulated at the state level. 

Dodd’s recent reintroduction of his bill occurred while a story was in the news about cremation practices in Georgia.  It is important to note that the shocking Georgia situation was very far from the norm.  Most funeral directors, crematory operators, and cemetery managers observe the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.