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Fake ashes and rotting bodies prompt Colorado lawmakers to pass funeral home regulations

May 6, 2024, 10:27 AM | Updated: 10:32 am

DENVER (AP) — Colorado lawmakers passed a sweeping bill Monday to overhaul the state’s lax oversight which failed to catch a series of horrific incidents involving funeral homes, including sold body parts, fake ashes and the discovery of 190 decaying bodies.

The cases have devastated hundreds of already grieving families, and encouraged lawmakers to pass the bill, which now goes to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for a signature.

If signed, the law would give regulators far greater enforcement power over funeral homes and require routine inspections of facilities including after one shutters.

It joins a second bill that passed both chambers last week which, if signed, would require funeral home directors and other industry roles to pass a background check, get a degree in mortuary science, and pass a national examination and an apprenticeship.

The legislations’ passage arrives after the 190 decomposing bodies were found at a funeral homes’ bug-infested facility about two hours south of Denver. The owners have been arrested and face hundreds of charges, including abuse of a corpse.

At another Colorado funeral home in February, a body was left for over a year in the back of a hearse.

Colorado’s funeral home regulations are some of the weakest in the nation. Funeral home directors don’t have to graduate high school and regulators weren’t required to do routine inspections, as is the case in many other states. These bills would be a dramatic update, putting Colorado on par with the rest of the country.

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Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Fake ashes and rotting bodies prompt Colorado lawmakers to pass funeral home regulations