Minnesota Repeals Useless Funeral-Home Requirement

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 21, 2014

St. Paul, Minn.—Today, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Omnibus HHS Policy Bill into law, which includes repealing the requirement that funeral-home entrepreneurs waste between $30,000 to $50,000 building useless embalming rooms in order to expand their businesses. The new law expands a major economic liberty victory from a 2013 lawsuit successfully brought by the Institute for Justice and a St. Paul funeral director.

Effective today, entrepreneurs like Verlin Stoll, owner of Crescent Tide Funeral Home in St. Paul, are now free to expand their businesses without the government forcing them to spend money on a room they do not need and will never use. Verlin built a successful business by offering low-cost funerals while providing high-quality service. His business is also one of the only funeral homes that serve low-income families who cannot afford the high prices of the big funeral-home companies.

In 2012, Verlin teamed up with IJ and sued Minnesota. In 2013, a judge struck down the law, but only applied the ruling to Verlin. The victory prompted the legislature to repeal the law for all funeral homes.

“Thanks to Verlin’s fight, the state legislature made the right choice and repealed Minnesota’s useless embalming room requirement for all funeral homes,” said IJ Attorney Katelynn McBride, who also served as lead counsel in Verlin’s lawsuit. “This is exactly what should be accomplished in the ‘unsession:’ Repealing occupational licensing laws that do nothing more than protect already established businesses from competition.”

“The new law is consistent with our mission to change the funeral industry and people’s perspective of it,” said Stoll. “Ultimately, consumers benefit most as the funeral services become more competitive.”

“These victories in court and at the legislature are part of the Institute for Justice’s nationwide effort to defend the constitutional right to earn an honest living,” said Lee McGrath, IJ’s legislative counsel. “For countless aspiring entrepreneurs across the nation, these victories show that judges and state legislators are increasingly engaged in protecting economic liberty.”

The repeal is part of the Omnibus Health and Human Services Policy Bill, HF 2402, which was authored by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) and Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato). The original bills containing the embalming room requirement repeal were HF 2306, authored by Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights), and SF 2189, authored by Sen. Melissa Wicklund (DFL-Bloomington).