Monday, March 31, 2008

House Passes Mortician Licensure Bill

If a bill given final passage in the House Monday survives its next test in the Senate, Colorado may soon become the last of the fifty states to require morticians to be licensed.

HB 1123 would return the state's law on the licensure of people who prepare dead human bodies for burial or cremation to it's pre-1982 condition.

In 1977 the legislature passed a bill terminating funeral director licensing requirements, but ultimately delayed the end of the state's licensing program through 1981.

The measure would also establish standards of practice for cremation and require registration with the department of regulatory agencies of funeral directors, embalmers, cremationists and interns.

It also imposes training requirements for these categories of funeral industry workers and requires DORA to track and monitor funeral homes, crematories, embalmers, funeral arrangement services and entities that transport dead human bodies.

The final House vote on the bill was marked by a strong partisan divide. Reps. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, and Victor Mitchell, R-Castle Pines Village, were the only GOP members of the chamber to support HB 1123. Democrats Dorothy Butcher of Pueblo, Joel Judd of Denver and Paul Weissman of Louisville joined all of the other House Republicans in voting "no."

The General Assembly had passed a bill re-instituting mortician licensure in 2006, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bill Owens.

HB 1123 is sponsored by Rep. Debbie Stafford, D-Aurora. It now moves on to the Senate.