Should Requirements for a Funeral Director License Be the Same for Each State?
A bill headed to the Ohio Senate is designed to make it easier for bordering out-of-state funeral directors to perform funeral services in the state.
Currently, if an out-of-state family seeks funeral services in Ohio, they might have to pay extra fees or have services delayed because their local funeral director, without an Ohio license, would need assistance from an Ohio funeral director.
House Bill 481, which is sponsored by State Rep. Bob Hackett, R-London, and unanimously passed by the Ohio House of Representatives last week, would allow out-of-state funeral directors to be issued courtesy cards that would allow them to perform duties in Ohio, such as prepare and complete certain sections of a death certificate and other permits needed for the disposition of a body.
“This would expedite the process for the families,” said Vanessa Niekamp, executive director for the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.
The bill also would authorize out-of-state funeral directors without an Ohio license to work with licensed funeral directors during a declared disaster or emergency.
This bill would have come in handy in 1977 when Thomas A. Routsong, president and CEO of Routsong Funeral Home & Cremation Services, and other members of the Montgomery County’s Mortuary Response Team were asked to go to Southgate, Ky., to help with funeral services and identify the dead after the Beverly Hills Supper Club disaster.
The nightclub was located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. A fire killed 165 people, including more than 50 from the Miami Valley. At the time, Routsong and other Ohio funeral directors did not have licenses to perform funeral services in Kentucky, but were allowed to help in light of the dire circumstances.
“This new law allows a legal cooperative effort from state to state in the event that somebody has a mass fatality or pandemic situation that comes up,” Routsong said of what would happen if the bill passed.
Kentucky and Indiana have passed similar legislation, according to Stephen Gehlert, executive director of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association. The OFDA proposed the legislation.
“Our members can’t (operate) in these states until Ohio has this law,” Gehlert said.
Another provision of the bill would allow embalmers and funeral directors to place their licenses on inactive status for two years. It also would eliminate additional costs that funeral directors and embalmers currently have to pay to get their licenses reinstated.
The state bill would affect 1,174 funeral homes and more than 3,000 funeral professionals, according to the state board.