- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - The state would help low-income families pay for child burials under a bill proposed by a Cedar Falls lawmaker who says the funds lift an unnecessary burden.

Democratic Rep. Bob Kressig’s bill would give qualifying individuals up to $2,000 for funeral expenses after the death of a child, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1gV13rA ). The measure has been assigned to an appropriations subcommittee and has more than 20 co-sponsors.

Kressig said the legislation was inspired by Sing Me to Heaven, a nonprofit group in northeast Iowa that raises money to help pay for such funerals. Group organizers estimate the cost of a funeral can range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more.

“There’s a need out there. Any funeral director, any person who knows anything about funerals will be able to tell you the need is absolutely out there,” said Jennifer Mehlert, one of the group’s founders. “It’s not cheap to bury anybody, let alone a child.”

Mehlert helped form Sing Me to Heaven in 2011 after her daughter, Natalie, died in 2010. Members of the group are using social media to encourage people to contact their local representatives so the bill can move forward.

The bill would provide $100,000 to be administered through the state Department of Public Health. The amount is not expected to be used up within a year, and the funds would not necessarily be recurring.

Still, Mehlert hopes ultimately that lawmakers will make sure there’s adequate funding. She said her group’s funds are limited and can often be depleted if multiple families experience loss at the same time.

Kressig said he’s working on getting bipartisan support for the bill.

“I think overall it’s something we could do. It’s just we’re going to have to try to convince legislators,” he said. “If you don’t know about it, it isn’t a problem, but we’ll see what we can do.”

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com