Pursuant to a notice that may, or may not, satisfy state law, the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors met in closed session this morning. At the State Board’s December meeting, Division counsel advised that 24 hours’ notice to the public was required to amend the Board’s agenda. Notice of this 9:00 am January 18th closed meeting was emailed out at 9:21am on January 17th. The Board’s website suggests that agenda was posted 8:45 am on January 17th. In that we receive the email meeting notification about half the time an agenda is posted, the Board’s website probably rules.
Followers of Deathcarelaw.com blog have jumped to the conclusion that our January 13th post was the subject of today’s meeting. Yes, the Chairman may have called for today’s meeting to make a rally cry to the Board members. But it is also likely that the Chairman sought the meeting to share correspondence that he, and this author, received after the Saturday blog post.
Not to steal the Chairman’s thunder, the correspondence casts new light on the Board’s direction during the past 27 months. Since late 2015, the State Board staff became cyber cops visiting every funeral home’s website to look for “Inc.”, commas, apostrophes, and anything else that might be missing from a sign or document. Enforcing the single DBA requirement took a higher priority than the safety of consumer funds. The Board also adopted a zero tolerance towards preneed renewals, and changed the forms and process without notice to licensees. (A preneed renewal isn’t timely filed unless we say it is.)
AHC Complaints were filed against licensees without proper due process and the Board stonewalled the industry’s request for open meetings to discuss seller record requirements and future examinations. An examination guideline was approved under suspect circumstances that burdens licensees and consumers without rational benefits or protections. Authority is drawn from rule proposals approved by the Board in 2016 but never submitted to the Secretary of State pursuant to Chapter 536.
The Board’s actions taken in isolation may not constitute a restraint of trade, but a different conclusion can be argued when the actions from the past two years are examined as a whole.