The Government and Legal Affairs Committee held a series of meetings on Capitol Hill during May 9 and 10, 2018. With the help of ICCFA’s lobbying firm, Dykema, appointments were scheduled with 25 Congressional members. These were almost evenly divided between 13 senators and 12 representatives. Party-wise, we met with 17 Republicans and 8 Democrats, including three key leadership offices.
Each of the meetings was geared to focus on key committees that vote on bills that affect ICCFA members. On the Senate side, those committees are Commerce, Finance, and Veterans’ Affairs. On the House side, Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means, and Veterans’ Affairs.
We had four main topics of discussion: impacts of tax reform on the death care industry especially installment revenue recognition and trust advisory deductions; the upcoming 2019 FTC Funeral Rule Review; the growing controversy over trafficking in non-transplant tissue/body donation (the proposed LATTS Act); and increasing veterans’ funeral benefits (the proposed BRAVE Act). Given the upcoming elections in November – one-third of the Senate and all 435 seats in the House are up for re-election – the attention of Congress will soon turn to their campaigns. As a result, our presentations were geared to laying the groundwork for legislative action in the coming year.
Our Capitol Hill “Gang” also met with Federal Trade Commission staff to discuss the upcoming Funeral Rule review, and the body broker controversy. We should expect the FTC to propose posting funeral prices online although staff was unclear whether such a requirement would be mandatory or optional. After several years of our group urging FTC staff to disclose the name of the funeral home employee who failed to provide the GPL according to the Rule, the staff said that they would now provide the identity of the employee on request. This is an important concession to help funeral providers to stay in compliance and avoid costly penalties that are now over $40,000 per violation.
Finally, I think we owe a vote of thanks to those individuals on the Government and Legal Affairs Committee who took the time, effort, and expense to travel to Washington, D.C. and lobby for the ICCFA and its membership. Those individuals are Keenan Knopke (co-chair), Larry Anspach, Chad Aylestock, Tom Daly, Ed Horn, Caressa Hughes, Jim Price, Greer Redden, and John Resich, and Steve Schacht. We were also fortunate that Barbara Kemmis (CANA executive director) could join us. And a very special thank you goes to Mike Doherty who continued his tradition of hosting a dinner for our group each year.