Missouri’s Chapter 436 reform law goes into effect on August 28th, and the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will have the responsibility of implementing the new changes. However, the State Board is caught in a Catch 22 situation.
Many of the changes will have to be implemented through regulations, but the Board doesn’t have Chapter 436 rulemaking authority until August 28th. For example, preneed sellers and providers will have to be licensed on August 28th . Since this is a new requirement, every preneed seller in the state will have to file an application and fee to be licensed. There are hundreds of funeral homes that will seek a seller’s license, and not a one can sell a preneed contract until the license is in hand. But, the Board can’t begin passing regulations about the licenses until August 28th. To avoid a shutdown of the preneed industry, the State Board will have to improvise through the use of emergency regulations and temporary licenses.
Accordingly, the State Board will be meeting every week during the month of August to establish its priorities for Chapter 436 regulations. The Board’s agenda for those meetings are set out on its website.
The State Board is seeking input from funeral directors in the form of written questions or comments regarding the agenda issues. By seeking comments in advance of publishing proposed rules, the State Board is hoping to expedite the regulation approval process.
Historically, some Chapter 333 rules have taken up a year or more to pass. The rulemaking process requires a Board meeting to discuss the issue and direct the legal staff to draft a proposal. Then a few months later at the next meeting, the Board will consider the proposal, and if acceptable, submit the proposal to the Secretary of State’s office for the publication process. With the publication, there is a comment period. Then, the comments are discussed at the next scheduled Board meeting. Depending upon the comments, the proposal may be revised, and if so, there will be another publication and comment period. All in all, the rulemaking process can be lengthy.
In the meantime, the Missouri preneed industry is waiting on the Board for directions on such issues as contract disclosures and trust administration requirements.
Missouri is in for a long, painstaking period of change.