With the support of the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, The Funeral Consumer Board Bill (HB 596) was voted out of committee last week with a crucial amendment. As reported in our January 19th post, Rep. McGaugh wants a preneed regulator that is more responsive to the consumer. The Representative’s constituents lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when the Polley Funeral Home operated years in violation of Chapter 436. (Coincidently, Mr. Polley was sentenced to 9 years in prison last week.)
The amendment sought by the MFDEA was the transfer of the preneed audit function from the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to the Division of Finance. The MFDEA used this issue sheet as an explanation of its “support” of the Funeral Consumer Board. The common ground that the MFDEA and Rep. McGaugh have found is that Missouri’s preneed audit program is broken.
Granted, the discipline sought by the State Board against The Missouri Funeral Trust has provided the Association its motivation for taking the unusual step of supporting a piece of legislation that would fill half of the State Board chairs with consumers. But after five years, the State Board still lacks an audit manual that would help guide the industry towards compliance with Chapter 436.
No one expects the passage of HB 596. Rather, the bill should be taken as a wakeup call to the industry to take charge of the preneed audit process.