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Legislature Hopes To Bury Bad Funeral Practices

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RALEIGH — The State Senate passed a law Wednesday that regulates how the funeral industry handles the dead. But they also dusted off an old law that may have you watching what you say in the presence of the deceased.

The State Senate passed, without debate, legislation that regulates transporters who pick up and deliver dead bodies for funeral homes. Until now, that was an unregulated part of the funeral industry.

With regulations come rules that say, among other things, you cannot haul corpses in the back of pickup trucks.

"There have been some reports of people who were hired to transport corpses and did it in a way that was very offensive to the loved ones," says Rep. Jenniver Weiss, D-Wake.

The Executive Director of The North Carolina Board of Mortuary Sciences, Andy Ritt, says there hasn't been a single documented complaint of inappropriate handling of bodies.

"But I think it's good for the public to know that if it does happen, the board will enforce the statutes. It's some good public protection there," says Ritt.

One regulation that has lawmakers buzzing prohibits the use of profanity around the corpse. That has been on the books for a century. Lawmakers felt that the law was a good one to keep on the books in the 21st century.

"I don't ever think it's been an issue and I'm not sure it will ever be an issue, but I think it's good for the public to know that if if does happen there is a place that they can turn," says Ritt.

"And the purpose is to show respect for the dead. That was something that the board had in their regulations for a long time," says Weiss.

The Legislation passed the Senate 48-0. The proper conduct in the hauling of corpses will soon be a matter of law.