Legislative Reports & Updates
March 3, 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 28th, 2021
February 19, 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 19th, 2021
February 17, 2021
Virginia Funeral Directors Association
General Assembly Weekly Report for Week Ending February 12th, 2021
February 12, 2021
Next of Kin Legislation Update
Good Day Members. Hopefully all of our members have been following the 2021 General Assembly Session and the progress of VFDA’s Legislative Agenda. I want to draw your attention to HB2005 – Delegate Sickles; Regarding Next of Kin for Disposition. This is the VFDA Next of Kin bill. We are facing a very strong challenge from the Association of Independent Funeral Homes of Virginia. That association is opposed to changing this law. I want to give you a quick “boil down.”
CURRENT LAW: Ambiguous and could keep the family’s decision making out of their hands.
In simple terms, the current code provides everyone an equal share or claim to a decedent.
The Code of Virginia Reads: “Next of Kin” means any of the following persons, regardless of the relationship to the decedent: any person designated to make arrangements for the disposition of the decedent’s remains upon his death pursuant to § 54.1-2825, the legal spouse, child aged 18 years or older, parent of a decedent aged 18 years or older, custodial parent or noncustodial parent of a decedent younger than 18 years of age, siblings over 18 years of age, guardian of minor child, guardian of minor siblings, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, maternal siblings over 18 years of age and paternal siblings over 18 years of age, or any other relative in the descending order of blood relationship.”
The IFHV describes this as being “Flexible” or providing “Flexibility.”
What they really mean is THEY have flexibility to choose. The funeral home should never be able to choose one next of kin over another. However, setting that aside, the following is an example of what the current Code of Virginia would allow:
Your parent is visiting a sibling on the opposite side of the state. Your parent dies unexpectedly. The sibling, trying to be helpful arranges for direct cremation at their local funeral home. You parent has expressed their wishes were to be buried next to a pre-deceased spouse.
Under the current law, the sibling would have equal right to make such a decision, even with a spouse or multiple other child(ren) surviving.
HB2005: A consumer protection bill and raises the bar for professionalism of funeral service providers
Makes very clear the priority of next of kin – mirrors the Wills, Trusts and Fiduciary Code
- Giving the right to make final arrangements to the appropriate next of kin at the appropriate stage of the process
- Removing the funeral home from making the decision of who the rightful next of kin is
- Will reduce court action
- Provides remedy for disagreement between multiple next of kin in a particular priority level
- Multiple siblings
- Multiple children
- This will reduce court action
Establishes clear forfeiture process by priority next of kin
- If a person chooses not to make the final arrangements, but is the person who has the priority
Establishes a variety of ways to attempt to contact with next of kin such as at last known address, telephone number, email address, and any known social media accounts are considered a reasonable inquiry made in good faith
- Many people do not have landlines and make “calls” through social media platforms
NO law can cover every variable where the human condition exists, but this bill can make sure that the appropriate family members have the opportunity to make the decision; choose not to make the decision; and keeps the funeral home from choosing one next of kin over another.
HB2005 also provides for other situations that have not been satisfactorily addressed in current CODE:
Clarifies that when a married couple is legally separated, the surviving separated spouse, loses their right of disposition
- We have all been in situations where a dispute has arisen from a surviving spouse who feels the right of disposition is still theirs, as they are still married. No longer would that be the case. Or perhaps the situation where there are multiple children who do not agree.
Provides for the majority of children who are in agreement to have the right to make arrangements
- We have also seen times where a dispute has arisen amongst the entire family. This law gives explanation as to what course of action the funeral home may take while the dispute is settled in court.
HB2005 mirrors the Wills, Trusts and Fiduciaries order of decent, and is much like the Virginia Department of Health, which has a strict list as to who can and who cannot get a death certificate.
32 other states across this nation have the full Next of Kin law implemented, why should we resist this change?
Please take the time to reach out to each of your Senators and Delegates. Be an advocate for our profession. Help your association maintain our strong position with the Virginia General Assembly and to move our legislative agenda forward.
February 9, 2021
Virginia Funeral Directors Association 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report
for Week Ending February 5, 2021
February 2, 2021
Virginia Funeral Directors Association 2021
General Assembly Weekly Report
for Week Ending January 31, 2021
The regular General Assembly Session convened on Wednesday, January 13th. Each year on the first day of session members vote on a procedural resolution that establishes the session schedule. While a 46-day session in odd-numbered years has become the norm for some time, two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate must formerly agree to extend the odd-numbered year 30-day session required by the Virginia Constitution to a 46-day session. As the minority party issued a statement at the end of the 84-day 2020 Special Session that ended on November 9th, 2020, they would not agree to a 46-day session, the 2021 General Assembly session is scheduled to end on February 11,2021. It is possible that there will be a special session immediately following the regular session.
The House of Delegates is conducting its floor sessions and committee hearings virtually with only the Speaker of the House, House Clerk and required staff physically present in the Capitol for floor sessions. The Senate is conducting its business at the Virginia Science Museum which allows for a social distanced environment due to public health concerns. Capitol Square remains closed to the public.vfda-013121-weekly-report
January 26, 2021
January 25, 20212021.01.14VFDA RESPONSE-IFHV_Opposition_to_SB1268
January 22, 2021
COVID Relief Plan and PPP
Compiled by NFDA
COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides an overview and a breakdown of the Economic Relief Bill passed in late December.
After an eight-month, stop-and-start test of endurance, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-relief and $1.4 trillion government funding package that gives critical pandemic aid to Americans, while securing federal agency operations through September 2021. While no additional state and local aid was provided, an extension of the deadline by which the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) resources must be spent was extended to Dec. 31, 2021.
The mammoth measure, which the president signed into law on Dec. 27, will provide another round of direct payments, enhanced unemployment benefits, education funding, and aid to sectors still reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Small Business Provisions:
- Provides $325 billion in small business funds.
- $284.5 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
- A small business can receive a second PPP loan if they have less than 300 employees and can demonstrate a revenue reduction of 25%.
- Maximum loan amount reduced to $2 million.
- $284.5 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
- $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants for businesses in low-income communities.
- $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
- $3.5 billion for continued Small Business Administration debt relief payments.
- $2 billion for enhancements to Small Business Administration lending.
- Businesses that received PPP loans would be able to take tax deductions for the expenses covered by forgiven loans.
- Expands PPP eligibility for 501 (C)(6) nonprofits, including local newspapers, radio, and television broadcasters, and destination marketing organizations.
- Provides $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that provide credit and financial services to low-income and minority communities.
The complete overview and breakdown can be found here:
From SESCO Management Consultants (www.sescomgt.com)
Hourly Earnings Increase 0.8%, CPI Increases 0.4% in December
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent from November to December 2020. This result stems from an increase of 0.8 percent in hourly earnings combined with an increase of 0.4 percent in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Average hourly earnings increased 3.7 percent from December 2019 to December 2020.
D.C. Passes Sweeping Ban on Non-Compete Agreements and Policies
The District of Columbia (D.C.) has enacted legislation which bans the use of nearly all noncompete provisions in employment agreements and workplace policies. The Act is effective on February 11, 2021. Importantly, the Act does not have a retroactive effect on non-compete agreements in existence before the Act’s effective date. The Act will require employers to modify existing employment policies (as opposed to existing agreements), and curtail the practice of offering or imposing non-compete agreements to or on employees who perform work in D.C. The Act does not cover physicians who make at least $250,000 per year; however, the Act requires their employers to provide them with 14 days’ notice of non-compete provisions.
We recommend all employers have SESCO review their Employee Handbook on annual basis to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws.
Ensuring Your Employment Application Is Lawful
The days of the “one size fits all” employment application may soon be coming to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. Specifically, three areas, based on state law, may expose employers to liability if asked about on employment applications: “ban the box” laws, salary/compensation history bans, and medical inquiries. Employers may order compliant employment applications on SESCO’s web site, www.sescomgt.com
To ensure compliance we recommend employers review all applicable policy and practices, and to contact SESCO if questions exist. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at email@example.com
January 18, 2021Manager of Record Legislation
SB 1424 will be in committee Wednesday, January 20th. Please contact committee members below asking them to support this bill. Their names are linked to their contact information.
The Emergency Regulations, which went into effect this January 14th created an unanticipated consequence. It allows an individual that is licensed as a Funeral Director only to become the Manager of Record and oversee an establishment that is offering embalming of deceased humans without any knowledge or practical experience of the embalming procedure. The Administrative Code dictates that a Manager of Record “shall be fully accountable for the operation of the establishment as it pertains to the laws and regulations governing the practice of funeral services…”
Senate Bill 1424 ensures that a Manager of Record for a funeral service establishment that does perform or offer embalming services to the families they serve is well trained and experienced to manage a situation following an embalming, such as purging, for example. There are some funeral service companies that have a “central embalming facility” that bodies are sent to for embalming before they come back to the funeral home where the funeral services will occur. It is a must to have Manager of Record who is appropriately trained and experienced to handle any situation related to the operations of a funeral service establishment.
Senate Bill1424 establishes that a person licensed as a funeral director may become a Manager of Record for funeral service establishments that do not offer or provide a cost of embalming on the mandated “General Price List.”
Senate Bill 1424 also recognizes that original funeral director licensees from the 1970’s were allowed to continue becoming Managers of Record and so exempts these long-time – albeit fewer than a dozen – funeral licensees who today are still Managers of record. Senate Bill 1424 does not seek to diminish the life’s work of these fine funeral directors.
Remember to thank them for their time and to support this bill.
January 13, 2021
HB 2116: Contact your legislator and ask them to support!
Dear VFDA Members:
This is great news from the Virginia General Assembly. Delegate Martha Mugler has filed HB 2116. This is an important bill that we have been wanting this past year!
HB 2116 Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency.
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency. Provides that in any case in which the Governor has declared a state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat, funeral service licensees shall be considered essential workers and shall be included in any group afforded priority with regard to (i) access to personal protective equipment and (ii) administration of any vaccination against such communicable disease of public health threat during such emergency. The bill contains an emergency clause.
This bill is in the early stages and has not been assigned a committee, but the VFDA asks that members and district members contact your legislators and ask them to support this bill.
Tell your story and what you have encountered over the last year!
December 14, 2020
Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers
Dear VFDA Members,
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for continuing to do the important and sacred work of serving the communities of Virginia. To say this year has been challenging is an understatement, and I have seen firsthand your resilience, innovation and determination to honor the deceased and provide closure for their loved ones throughout this global public health crisis.
Over the past year, we have partnered with the National Funeral Directors Association to make progress at a national level to gain support and secure accommodations for our industry. But there is still work to be done here in Virginia to help the funeral profession during this pandemic.
Our colleagues continue to face significant challenges in getting valuable resources and support and many firms cannot carry out their duty to serve the grieving families of Virginia due to restrictive limitations in place. Specifically, limitations that do not leave space for honoring descendants in a non-religious service or ceremony.
That is why I ask you for your support in helping with an important initiative we are working on here at the VFDA.
In our most recent letter to Governor Northam, our association implored him to make funeral directors a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. But we can no longer wait and see. Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers.
Please download this template letter (Microsoft Word format) you can sign and send to the Governor’s office stating our case for being formally recognized as essential healthcare workers. You may include a note about a challenging time you experienced on the job this year if you would like, or you can simply sign it and drop it in the mail.
It is our hope that standing together and showing up as a united profession will make the needle move in our favor for this designation.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. The VFDA exists to support you in your important work.
December 7, 2020
Can You Afford a 37% Tax Increase?
Dear VFDA Members:
NFDA needs your voice to avoid a “surprise” tax on small businesses that took advantage of COVID-19 loans from the federal government!
As many of you know, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year were a lifeline for many small businesses, including funeral homes.
The concept of the PPP loans was simple: if a qualifying small business used a federally-guaranteed loan to pay their employees and cover certain non-payroll expenses, the loan would be forgiven. Congress included a provision in the CARES Act stating that any portion of a PPP loan that was forgiven would be excluded from gross income for tax purposes.
In spite of Congress’ clear intent, the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-32 that reversed this ruling and turned a tax-free loan forgiveness into taxable income! This could result in a surprise tax increase of up to 37% on small businesses when they file their taxes in 2020.
With the potential for additional financial harm to small businesses, the recent IRS Revenue Ruling 2020-27 states that expenses funded through a PPP loan are not deductible for 2020 if the taxpayer expects their loan to be forgiven, regardless of whether an application for forgiveness has been submitted.
While Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed their displeasure with the recent IRS notice and ruling, America’s small businesses need them to take action by passing legislation to address the tax treatment of PPP loan forgiveness.
According to the Small Business Administration, about 5.2 million small businesses – including funeral homes – received $525 billion in PPP loan funds during the pandemic, enabling them to pay their employees and keep their doors open. Without action by Congress, the IRS’s recent actions could mean even more small businesses would be forced to permanently close, putting millions of people out of work and causing further damage to the economy.
You have successfully helped us move important policy issues forward during the pandemic. Most recently, your voice made a tremendous difference in our push to get the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine to prioritize funeral directors in their guidance to state and federal public health officials on the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine.
You can make a difference on this issue too!
Show your support for your colleagues and other small business owners, like yourself, by sending a message to your members of Congress asking them to pass legislation before the end of the year reversing the unfair steps taken by the IRS to change the tax treatment of PPP loans. Doing so will take just a few minutes of your time – we even have a pre-written message you can send.