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MFDA Legislative Update - June 13, 2017


The 2017 regular and special legislative sessions have ended and though the Governor and legislative leaders continue to discuss a number of provisions, none appear to be of direct concern to MFDA.  For your information, below is a general session summary along with information on employment and tax issues that may be of interest to MFDA members.


2017 General Session Summary

2017 Tax Summary

2017 Employment Issues Summary


Prior to the start of session, MFDA worked on a plan to move forward with a proposal to require training and certification for individuals who perform cremation. Throughout the fall, MFDA members provided input during district meetings.  Along with additional input of Dr. Michael LuBrant (Program Director, Mortuary Science, University of Minnesota) and individuals from the cremation and cemetery industries, the MFDA Legislative Committee crafted a comprehensive cremator operator certification proposal. 


The legislation was introduced early in session by House Health and Human Services Committee Chair, Rep. Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) and Senator Bill Weber, (R-Luverne).   We met with staff and members of the Health and Human Services committees to explain the need and details of the proposal.   All of them were supportive, however the bill fell into a category of legislation that was not being considered this year, called “scope of practice.”  All new certifications and changes to licensure requirements fall under this category of bills that were to be reviewed over the interim.  With the opportunities to educate lawmakers throughout the interim, MFDA should be well positioned to move forward with the proposal when HHS committees will be addressing some scope of practice issues in 2018.


The Department of Health also had a crematory proposal as part of their department policy bill, however that did not move forward either.  That bill also included additional required documentation for cremation and alkaline hydrolysis, issues discussed during the Mortuary Science Ad Hoc meetings in the previous year.


Another issue of ongoing interest to MFDA was working with the Office of Vital Records on gaining quicker turnaround from physicians providing cause of death within the MR&C program.  There has been improvement but some delays remain.  One bill that did move which helps with this problem will allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants to provide the cause of death and sign the death certificates.   The new law became effective immediately, and the Office of Vital Records is working with the affected professional groups to educate them on timely and proper usage of the MR&C system.


One issue that Cook Girard began hearing from funeral directors this year is concerns with a new document from the Department of Human Services that outlines “reasonable funeral expenses” in situations where individuals are spending down assets before Medical Assistance will pay claims. The new DHS document sought to create uniformity among the counties administering the guidelines, however it appears to have raised more questions than it resolved.  Our contacts at DHS acknowledge the complexity, and welcome input from MFDA and we will be working with them on this over the coming months. 


A related issue that has been raised at district meetings in the past is the differing county burial policies across the state.  This has continued to create problems, due to a reduction in allowed county funds for burial and cremation costs as well as a lack of understanding at the counties regarding what is provided by the funeral establishment and the true cost.  While MFDA members appreciate the pressure that counties are under to manage costs, the losses that funeral establishments assume in order to provide proper and dignified burials may eventually prove unsustainable.  In order to begin a dialogue with the counties, late in the legislative session, MFDA introduced a bill authored by Rep. Schomacker that would require counties to pay “reasonable expenses” for burials and cremation. This legislation is intended to be a starting point for discussions between MFDA and the counties, which will take place throughout the summer and fall, with the ultimate goal of a solution for 2018.


Other issues of interest to MFDA members are the workplace issues, outlined in the attached Employment issues report.   For members with locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the veto of the Uniform State Labor Standards Act means the local sick leave ordinances will go into effect on July 1st and they should be sure to be in compliance.  Please call Cook Girard if you need information on these ordinances.


Cook Girard continues to monitor all the Mortuary Science Ad Hoc meetings and we maintain strong relationships with staff at the MN Department of Health, the Office of Vital Records, and Department of Human Services and will continue our work with all of them.  We look forward to talking with members who attend the upcoming district meetings and our ongoing work on behalf of MFDA.


Joe Sellwood

Manager of Government Affairs

Cook Girard Associates

(o) 651-917-6001

(c ) 651-303-3853



MFDA Legislative Update - May 16, 2017
Cook Girard’s update on the status of the legislature with 10 days left in session is available here


Here is an update of issues of specific interest to MFDA:


  •  SF1844 (Sen. Kiffmeyer) / HF2177 (Rep. Zerwas) – Advanced Practice Registered Nurses signature authority (gives APRNs authority to sign death certificates).  Passed both House and Senate and will be presented to the Governor for his signature.  This will be effective the day following final the Governor’s signature.
  • HF2627 (Rep. Schomacker) – Requires counties to pay “appropriate expenses” for county burials or cremations.   This bill will not move forward this session but was introduced to help start conversations between MFDA and Minnesota Counties on this growing concern for many MN funeral directors.  We will be working with the counties in the interim in attempt to reach agreement on solutions to the increasing county reimbursement issues for county burials and cremations.  
  • The Department of Health Mortuary Science proposal which included a cremator operator certification and a number of other provisions was introduced but not heard in any committees. This will remain a topic of discussion for 2018.
  • Rental Caskets Sales Tax Exemption - The language to add rental caskets to the sales tax exemption that was part of the Governor’s tax proposal was not included in the omnibus tax bill from the House and Senate.  This can be an item of discussion at District Meetings for possible work in 2018.

Looking forward:


  • We will be working throughout the interim to educate legislators and staff on the importance of cremator operator certification and will move forward with the legislation in 2018.
  • The Mortuary Science Section at MDH is interviewing individuals for the section manager position.
  • The next Mortuary Science Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee is Friday, June 2nd.  We will continue to attend all Ad Hoc meetings and report back on status and issues being discussed for 2018.

We will keep you posted on all developments and I look forward to visiting with many of you at the MFDA Annual Convention.


Joe Sellwood

Manager of Government Affairs

Cook Girard Associates

(o) 651-917-6001

(c ) 651-303-3853


Information on legislative updates on Medical Assistance


Information on legislative updates on Prep Room Regulations


MFDA Legislative Update - March 17, 2017

Every session is unique and 2017 is no different. The primary focus of the session is crafting the state's budget for the next two years. Another theme throughout the first eleven weeks has been the rising costs of health insurance, with lawmakers first passing a premium rebate and now working towards greater overall market reform. There are many other issues under consideration, with over 4600 bills introduced so far, some of which are of specific interest to the funeral industry.

 Bills moving forward of interest to MFDA members

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and Physician Assistant signature authority
    1. HF2177 (Rep. Zerwas, Elk River) & SF1844 (Sen. Kiffmeyer, Big Lake)
    2. This bill would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants to provide cause of death information within MR&C. This would alleviate some of the pressure on funeral directors to track down physicians to provide the cause of death. The bill is currently awaiting votes on the House and Senate floors.
  • Rental casket sales tax exemption
    1. HF893 (Rep. Davids, Preston) & SF726 (Sen. Chamberlain, Lino Lakes)
    2. This provision is part of Governor Dayton's tax proposal to the legislature. It extends the sales tax exemption to rental caskets, burial vaults, and alternative containers used for transportation or viewing. We have spoken with both Tax Committee Chairs and expressed MFDA support for the provision's inclusion in the forthcoming Omnibus Tax bills.
  • Elimination of the State Veterans Cemetery Burial fee for spouses and dependents
    1. HF1597 (Rep. Howe, Rockville) & SF1244 (Sen. Fischbach, Paynesville)
    2. This bill eliminates the State Veterans Cemetery Burial fee ($745) for spouses and dependents of eligible veterans. The bill is currently moving through the committee process.

Bills not currently moving

  • MFDA Cremator Operator certification bill
    1. HF1025 (Rep. Kiel, Crookston) & SF1665 (Sen. Weber, Luverne)
    2. Our proposal falls under the category of new Certification/Licensure or Scope of Practice, an area that lawmakers will be focusing on in 2018.
  • Department of Health Policy bill
    1. HF1839 (Rep. Schomacker, Luverne) & no senate companion
    2. Similar to MFDA, the Department proposed a Cremator Operator certification, as well as other policy provisions ranging from capturing additional information for alkaline hydrolysis to a new cremation form.

Other items of interest

  • Department of Human Services
    1. The Department of Human Services recently released updated MA recovery guidelines. The release outlines the use of reasonable and unreasonable funeral expenses. These guidelines do not apply to funerals that are prepaid, unless the prepaid funeral is underfunded and the estate has to make up the difference. We've met with DHS and they understand MFDA members have some concerns, particularly with the uniform application of the guidelines throughout Minnesota counties. DHS is willing to review any suggestions or changes MFDA puts forward.
  • Department of Health
    1. Anne Kukowski has recently left the Mortuary Science Section at the Department. Currently, Catherine Lloyd is the supervisor and can be reached by phone at 651-201-3829.
    2. The Mortuary Science Ad Hoc Advisory Committee continues to meet and is always taking suggestions for discussion topics. If there is a topic you'd like the committee to consider, you can email

As MFDA's lobbyists, we're your eyes and ears at the capitol every day. We will continue to keep you updated on any developments impacting MFDA and its members. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Joe Sellwood                                        Judy Cook
651-303-3853                                       612-80-7116          





Please click here to view the entire 2015 Legislative Updates for the Minnesota Mortuary Science Industry document.


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