(Chicago, IL) — March 1, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn yesterday announced that a series of protections for consumers provided by the new Cemetery Oversight Act take effect on March 1, but the new regulatory beast created by the law may force hundred of small cemeteries out of business.
The Act, which Quinn signed into law January 17 in response to the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal last summer, also provides a Consumer Bill of Rights for cemetery customers.
“The safeguards that we are putting into effect as a result of the Cemetery Oversight Act will ensure that we will never have to suffer through another ordeal like the Burr Oak Cemetery tragedy,” Quinn said.
“The Cemetery Oversight Act created a rigorous and unified regulatory structure for the cemetery and funeral industries under the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation,” according to Quinn’s press release.
Oh, did it ever.
The weight of the combined “rigorous and unified regulatory structure” and fees that could average $13,000 per cemetery is likely to drive hundreds of small, volunteer non-profit cemeteries out business.
According to one Democratic lawmaker:
“Quinn’s people hastily slapped this new law together in a mad rush during the primary campaign against Dan Hynes to claim in a TV ad that he ‘fixed’ the Burr Oak problem. There is no way the mom-and-pop, volunteer cemeteries can comply with all the regulatory non-sense and fees stuffed this law. They are just going to say ‘the hell with it’ and abandon by the hundreds.”
Imagine the ghoulish TV ads of closed cemeteries that State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), the likely GOP gubernatorial nominee, would launch. Oof.
The new law includes toll-free Helpline for complaints about cemeteries is 1-888-RLOVED1 (756-8331) among other provisions, including a Consumer Bill of Rights, that entitles consumers to:
- Protection from deceptive or unfair practices by the cemetery.
- A standardized price list disclosing prices for all cemetery related products.
- A burial contract that describes the exact location of the burial.
The Act, which grew out of recommendations of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force created by Quinn and rammed through the legislature just before the Democratic primary on February 2, called for the appointment of the state’s first Cemetery Oversight board by IDFPR Secretary Brent Adams.
“The launch of the Consumer Bill of Rights and the appointment of an Oversight Board represents a major step toward fulfilling Governor Quinn’s commitment to making Illinois cemeteries more accountable to consumers and to the State,” said Adams who, by law, will serve as the board’s chair.
State Senators Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago) this year are both sponsoring legislation to undo some new law’s more egregious haste and burdens.
For Quinn’s sake, let’s hope they are successful.