As news of the NPS meltdown began to leak last month, several proposals to reform Missouri's preneed law were hastily drafted. Not knowing the extent of NPS' problems, some reform advocates felt the need to strike while the iron was hot.
Even as the legislative session ended on May 16th, it was not clear whether any reform would be enacted. However, when the dust settled in Jefferson City, the only preneed reform enacted will prove the most prudent.
By virtue of an amendment made to Senate Bill 788 on the Senate Floor, the "Joint Committee on Preneed Funeral Contracts" was given birth. The committee will be formed with seven members from each of the House and the Senate.
The Joint Committee's tasks are to:
(1) Make a comprehensive study and analysis of the consumer and economic impact on the preneed funeral contract industry in the state of Missouri;
(2) Determine from its study and analysis the need for changes in statutory law; and
(3) Make any other recommendation to the general assembly relating to its findings.
By the time the Committee members are appointed, and hearings are scheduled in September, a great deal more will be known about NPS' business practices. However, the hearings are bound to put Missouri's entire preneed industry under the microscope. The death care industry has the summer to prepare.