A bill would require funeral directors in Colorado to be licensed

A group of Colorado lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are joining forces to propose stricter regulations for the funeral home industry. Their motivation stems from recent instances of abuse within the industry.

If the General Assembly passes Senate Bill 24-173 and it becomes law, funeral directors, mortuary scientists, cremationists, and embalmers will need to obtain a license. The bill has been sponsored by Sens. Dylan Roberts (D-Frisco) and Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), as well as Reps. Matt Soper (R-Delta) and Brianna Titone (D-Arvada).

The bill is a direct response to the cases of mismanagement, fraud, and mistreatment that have occurred at funeral homes in the state over the past few years. At present, the regulation of funeral homes and crematories in Colorado falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Regulatory Agencies. However, it is important to note that certification by the Colorado Funeral Directors Association, a trade group, is currently optional.

The Colorado funeral service association’s website states that a high school diploma or GED is the minimum requirement to practice funeral service in Colorado. The employment criteria may vary depending on the employer. Some funeral homes provide on-the-job training, while others require formal education from an accredited mortuary science college.

According to the legislators, the Colorado Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform conducted a review to determine if the funeral service industry is causing harm to the public to an extent that warrants regulation.

According to the fact sheet, the report concluded that regulation is necessary to protect the public after examining numerous cases.

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Individuals in the industry must meet several requirements to practice legally. These include submitting an application, paying a fee, and undergoing a fingerprint-based criminal history record check. Additionally, they should not have faced disciplinary action in another state or have been convicted of a qualifying crime. These regulations will come into effect on January 1, 2026.

In a statement introducing the bill, Roberts expressed concern about the insufficient regulation of Colorado’s funeral industry, which he believes has resulted in the victimization of families in the state. He emphasized the importance of this service, as every family will eventually require it, and stressed the need for proper training, oversight, and accountability among those entrusted with the care of their loved ones’ remains. Roberts likened this need to the standards upheld in other professions and businesses.

A provisional license is part of the bill for current funeral practitioners. To be eligible for this license, applicants must have a minimum of 6,500 hours of work experience, complete a one-year or longer apprenticeship, and pass a fingerprint-based criminal history background check. After holding a provisional license for at least 24 months without any disciplinary actions, individuals would be eligible for full licensure.

License holders would need to complete six hours of continuing education in order to renew their license, as proposed by the bill. Additionally, the legislation would provide guidelines for disciplining both applicants and license holders.

In a statement, Titone emphasized the importance of honoring the dignity of families and their deceased loved ones. The lack of proper regulation in Colorado allows unscrupulous individuals to exploit vulnerable citizens during a difficult time.

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