With Governor Parson withdrawing all four of his Missouri Funeral Board appointments, the industry is asking what will happen next. The Governor’s office had been watching the festering dispute between the Division and the State Board, but was unsure whether the industry cared. While the MFDEA’s support for the Division acting director was undeniable, the Governor was being warned that the association did not have the industry’s support. The industry responded not through the association but through individual funeral directors expressing opposition to their respective Senators. Objections from funeral directors forced Senators and the Governor to look beyond MFDEA support for Ms. Solon and her actions, and instead at the underlying law and facts.
Ms. Solon’s confirmation hearing is scheduled this coming week, and we expect that she will receive the benefit of the doubt by the Senate and will be confirmed. By the benefit of the doubt, we mean that Ms. Solon is a newcomer to the funeral industry and would not have implemented her cost savings plan, the restructuring of the Board and the termination of the Board staff without advice of multiple individuals perceived as having deep knowledge of the industry. An appointee that followed the advice of a single individual without cross checking that advice would be faulted for poor judgment, and appropriately denied confirmation. Ms. Solon received seriously flawed advice from more than one industry ‘expert’.
Ms. Solon will be given an opportunity to re-chart her course with the State Board. To provide assurance to the industry that the next State Board is autonomous, the Governor will not simply delegate the appointee process to the Division. We anticipate that some deference will be given to the Senate regarding the selection process. But appointees should expect inquiries whether they can look past the events of 2021 and strive to create an effective working relationship with the Division director. Appointees will also need to be impartial when investigating what licensee(s) sought to derail the preneed examination process.