At its December meeting, Missouri’s State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors will seek input from licensees and consumers regarding several rulemaking proposals. The proposals were published on the Board’s website in November, with a request that comments be provided to the Board by December 2nd. This represents a prelude to the formal rulemaking process which involves publication and comment periods which take a minimum of six months. Typically, the formal rulemaking process results in comments that require revisions be made to the proposals. Those revisions require further publication and comment opportunities. For a board that only meets periodically, responding to comments can add several months to the rulemaking process. Though such delays may be frustrating to an agency, this process is intended to provide the flexibility needed to interpret and apply a law while minimizing the risks of bureaucratic arbitrariness and overreaching. If the process is ignored in favor of an action or policy that constitutes ‘informal rulemaking’, the agency runs the risk of having that action or policy being struck down by the administrative hearing commission or by the courts.
For a Missouri funeral industry that has grown weary of the autocratic nature of preneed reform under SB1, the December meeting will provide just the first opportunity to comment to the State Board’s proposed rules. The December 2nd due date is merely a date by which comments can be included in the Board’s agenda packet. Some of the proposals are new and ‘rough’, and difficult to respond to without an explanation from the Board staff. Consequently, we anticipate the rulemaking process will involve a test of patience for both the State Board and the industry.