Minnesota requires every funeral home to have an embalming room. The embalming room does not have to be functional; it just has to be there—a frivolous government-imposed requirement that costs entrepreneurs like Verlin as much as $30,000 for each new funeral home they build.
But, if the rights enshrined in our federal and state constitutions mean anything, the government cannot require citizens to do useless things just because the government says so. The government can’t force loggers to buy 100 unneeded chainsaws, cabbies to drive six wheeled taxis, or fast food joints to have crystal chandeliers. And yet, that is exactly what Minnesota is doing to funeral industry entrepreneurs like Verlin—forcing them to needlessly gold-plate their businesses with costly extravagances.
The embalming room requirement makes no sense. Embalming is never legally required in Minnesota when someone passes away and there is no legal requirement that funeral homes do their own embalming. Minnesota’s largest funeral chain has 17 locations and 17 embalming rooms, but actually uses only one. Many embalming rooms across Minnesota and the nation sit idle because more consumers are opting for cremation. Minnesota’s law does nothing but crush the aspirations of entrepreneurs like Verlin.
The embalming room requirement exists only because big, full-amenity funeral home businesses want to protect themselves from competition. These established funeral homes benefit from a law that drives up prices for consumers and drives up operating expenses for competitors, such as Verlin.
It is not only silly to force entrepreneurs to waste money on things they don’t want, don’t need, won’t use and can’t afford, but it is also unconstitutional. The Minnesota Constitution protects every Minnesotan’s economic liberty, which means that it protects entrepreneurs from being burdened by useless legal requirements.
That is why Verlin, a funeral consumer advocate and a funeral consumer advocacy organization have joined with the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter to put this irrational regulation to rest. Minnesota cannot require its citizens to do useless things just to get into business. Victory here will not only free Verlin from an unconstitutional restraint on his economic liberty, but also protect entrepreneurs across the state from pointless laws and bureaucracy.
Katelynn McBride is an IJ Minnesota Chapter attorney.