- Associated Press - Monday, February 22, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania legislator and funeral home director is pushing a bill that would change the funeral services industry’s regulations and benefit his business.

State Sen. Robert Tomlinson, who owns Tomlinson Funeral Home in Bensalem Township, is backing legislation that would amend the law regulating the funeral services industry, a move that opponents said could be bad for consumers, The Morning Call reported (https://bit.ly/1oDotfD).

Funeral homes traditionally earn most of their money on casket and other sales at the time of someone’s death. Cemeteries make the lion’s share of their profits when people pre-plan funerals and pick out a plot, grave marker, casket and vault.

The bills, in the state House and Senate, would effectively eliminate the pre-planned sales that cemeteries rely on. The bills restrict how cemeteries handle inventory by not allowing them to warehouse vaults and caskets.

The state Funeral Directors Association, which Tomlinson is a part of, is supporting the legislation, but the Republican has downplayed his involvement. Tomlinson co-sponsored the Senate bill, but noted that he isn’t the lead sponsor. He said he “absolutely” is not advocating for the cemetery bills to help his business.



The Federal Trade Commission said the legislation would be bad for consumers, who tend to save money by hedging against inflation and buying caskets and vaults in advance. The legislation could create a monopoly for funeral homes by forcing cemeteries out of the per-need sales business, the state Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association said.

The association argued that funeral homes would capture the bulk of the casket and vault sales, which average more than $3,700 per burial, if the legislation becomes law.

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Information from: The Morning Call, https://www.mcall.com

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