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Bill aims to keep funeral homes open

Minnesota funeral homes are watching a bill at the state Capitol that could affect whether their branch locations must be upgraded to keep operating after next year.

Rep. Jim Knoblach is author of the bill that would allow funeral homes to continue to operate even if they use a preparation room at a central location for embalming.

State law changed a few years ago to require every funeral home to have a preparation room at every location by June 30, 2017. For some companies, upgrading branch locations could be a costly burden they can’t absorb, leaving some small towns without a funeral home.

“They’re just going to close down, because it doesn’t pay to spend $100,000 on adding a prep room onto them if they only have one funeral a month there,” Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, said in a recent interview with the Times.

Funerals are often held in gymnasiums, VFWs, churches and other locations where there aren’t preparation rooms, he noted.

The Minnesota Funeral Directors Association initially proposed the requirement that every funeral home should have a prep room, said spokeswoman Darlyne Erickson.

“It’s a matter of having the right equipment to do the job,” Erickson said. “We feel it’s important as a profession that a funeral home have everything they need, and that would be an updated prep room.”

However, the association has members on both sides of the issue and is remaining neutral on the bill, she said. The Minnesota Department of Health also has not taken a position.

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