Advocacy

 

 

Legislative Reports & Updates


September 16, 2020

Dear VFDA Members:

As a funeral service professional, intern or student entering the profession in Virginia, you have the expertise to talk about the legislative issues that impact you and those you serve. You are also a constituent who has voting power; your legislators depend on your vote for their election. That’s why it’s important for you to tell your members of the Virginia General Assembly how legislation affects you and your profession. As a grassroots advocate, forming relationships with your representatives makes an impact.

Advocacy is the essential and necessary means by which the VFDA and affiliated state associations support and advance the funeral service profession in the areas of public policy, political action and popular opinion. Advocacy is used to educate; inform; and persuade others to support our issues! Members have the strongest voice when it comes to advocacy. By sharing your professional/personal stories about how issues impact you and those you serve, exercise your right as a constituent (and someone who votes) to let your voice be heard.

As a VFDA Member we need you to Take Action by:

  • responding to email action alerts and sending a message to your lawmakers and policymakers
  • visiting the Advocacy page of the VFDA website (which is the page you are currently on!) to see how you can help VFDA advocate for the profession

The VFDA government affairs and public policy professionals are here to assist you with your advocacy planning and advocacy needs! When ACTION is needed, check your e-mail for VFDA Legislative Alerts! read the information and follow the instructions on how to submit a pre-written letter under your signature to your legislator and committee members on the Hill. We are dedicated to making this an easy and quick process for our members, by still getting out the message to our legislators when issues arise during the Virginia General Assembly session.

We appreciate you being an active VFDA member and supporting our advocacy efforts this legislative session. Please take a moment to fill out our Grassroots Advocacy Information Form. You can do this online by clicking that link or send in the postcard you received by mail. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the VFDA office at (804) 264-0505 or info@vfda.net.

“If you are wondering whether or not to communicate your views…, consider that others who disagree with you are doing so constantly.”

Sincerely,
Jay McIntyre, VFDA Legislative Chair


September 14, 2020

2020.09.11_SSWeek4-FINAL

September 8, 2020

2020.09.04_VAGASSWeek3-FINAL

August 29, 2020

2020.08.28_SS_Update

August 18, 2020

Good Afternoon Members,

On Thursday, the legislative committee will hold their second meeting of the current year. We have three main parts on our agenda for this meeting. The next of kin legislation the VFDA is pursuing for the 2021 General Assembly Session, notes and discussion about the split license meeting, and the status of the General Assembly Special Session, which begins today.

Larry Spiaggi sent an email on Monday containing notes from the first meeting of the State Board Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP). He graciously agreed to serve on the RAP on behalf of VFDA to provide guidance on this issue. Based on the discussion during the RAP, staff has begun to draft the components for the proposed licensing structure.

Some VFDA members continue to reach out to me with concerns about particular issues, one being the ability manager of record. VFDA advocated to prevent a Funeral Director Only Licensee from becoming a manager of record before the RAP. However, staff indicated that the RAP did not have the ability to make such a decision because the current Code of Virginia, (presumably § 54.1-2810), allows for a Funeral Director only to serve as a manager of record, which was never changed in the 1970’s when they began requiring funeral directors and embalmers to obtain a Funeral Service Licensee license. I know there are many who were upset to hear this news. I was disappointed myself. We may need to revisit that item next year after the regulations have been in place for a full year. I am open to revisiting this piece next year as we prepare for the 2022 General Assembly Session.

Second on our agenda will be discussion of the Next of Kin Legislation. During our July meeting, the Legislative Committee voted to pursue this measure as our lone piece of legislation. We want to focus on the importance of this change, all the while working side by side with our patrons. As always, we ask that you as a member reach out to those who represent you. In the very near future, even as early as this week, you will see the exact text we are going to be using, and we want our members to advocate with their legislators for it. It is much more streamlined than our original bill two years ago because we worked with the Virginia Bar to redraft it.

Lastly, Angie will update the committee on the Special Session. As of now, session could be as short as a few days to a week, or months long. That remains to be determined by the legislature itself. We will continue to update as things progress and we have more information to share.

Many thanks for your continued support and efforts for the Legislative Committee of your VFDA.

Thanks,

Jay McIntyre

Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA President Elect
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Vice President
Licensed Funeral Director


July 16, 2020

Dear VFDA Members,

As a follow-up to Jay McIntyre’s report last week regarding contacting the VFDA office if doctors are not on the EDRS or refusing to sign-up, we are providing the Physician User Manual. This is a great tool to help direct doctors get signup on the system. You will want to direct their attention starting at Page 5, Section 3, “accepting a case”.

Walk them through completing the death certificate piece by piece. Also, direct them to this training video from the VDH. We hope these tools will help everyone sign up.

As always, the VFDA is here to help, please call on us if you need assistance.


July 14, 2020

Legislative Update and Input Regarding Dual Licensing

Good Day Members. On Thursday July 9, the Legislative Committee held its first conference call. We discussed many items of importance for the upcoming year. I want to detail just a couple of those items and inform you of what is upcoming.

As everyone already knows, the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers along with other partners from the profession, have been tasked with creating the structure of the new dual license. VFDA has a seat at the table during those meetings, and the Legislative Committee selected Larry Spiaggi to represent the association. I will serve as a backup for him if needed. Angie Bezik prepared this outline (this link will download a Word document). She prepared this information to answer many questions from the membership. What are the neighboring states doing? What key pieces do our members want to see included? What parts are we opposed to? Please review this information! When Larry represents the VFDA on this committee, we will provide him with several points that absolutely must be included, several points we will not agree to, and some points in the middle we may have to live with. I believe that there will be much overlap between the three funeral associations.

Second, as you will see in an upcoming bulletin article, during our call, the Legislative Committee decided to pursue the Next of Kin Bill we have been working on for the past two years. Prior to the 2020 General Assembly session, we decided to pull the bill and wait for this year. We felt that taking a year to meet and work together with the new faces in the GA would provide better results than pushing a bill forward that may not gain traction. So, we brought this legislation back for the 2021 Session. It is our goal to include the Virginia Bar Association on this legislation, as their members were very instrumental in the re-writing of this bill. This will be our only piece of legislation during the 2021 session. New rules for both House and Senate have limited the number of bills that can be introduced by the members. Because of that change, the committee is working to grow and cultivate relationships with members of the GA both old and new that we can partner with.

As we progress forward toward session, you will see additional emails from the committee about our progress with the Dual License Committee. Again, please review the information and provide any comments or ideas to the VFDA office at info@vfda.net, that Larry can use during the meetings.

These links will download a Word document:
Funeral Licensing Information from NFDA
VFDA Review of Licensure Structure in Preparation for Promulgation of Regulations for Dual Licensure

Please consider providing your feedback to the following (send to info@vfda.net):

Because SB1044 instructs the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers to promulgate regulations for a Funeral Directors license and an Embalmer license, that is what the Board must do.

  • What education requirements does VFDA want imposed on Funeral Director Only licensees?
  • What internship requirements does VFDA want imposed on Embalmer Only licensees?
  • Should continuing education requirements remain the same for each new licensee?
  • What advantages does VFDA want a Funeral Director Only licensee to be able to have? For example:
    • Sell pre-need with appropriate licensing?
    • Fewer hours of internship?
  • What advantages does VFDA want Funeral Service Licensees to retain exclusively? For example:
    • The ability to be a Manager of Record for a funeral establishment?
    • The ability to sell pre-need as a fully licensed Funeral Service Licensee?

We appreciate your feedback!

Thanks,

Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA President Elect
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Vice President
Licensed Funeral Director


July 8, 2020

07.07.20_bills_in_effect_july1st

July 6, 2020

Good Day members! I hope each and every one of you had a happy and safe 4th of July! As the summer progresses and life continues a track back to some kind of normal, we can call look forward to getting back together as friends and colleagues at both local meetings and the VFDA Convention!

In this letter, I want to talk again about the EDRS. Each day we grow closer and closer to that 100% participation benchmark. That being said, we are not there yet. We still have work to do. I am still helping funeral homes get doctors signed up almost weekly. Which as always, I am happy to do. But with some doctors still resisting, I still need your help to let me know when they are not doing their part. I keep a running list when funeral homes reach out to me about doctors and as I am able I remove them from the list one by one. It has also come to the association’s attention that some funeral homes are not doing their part. We still hear about funeral homes who continue taking drop to paper death certificates to doctors. This activity cannot continue. In order for the doctors to comply, so must the funeral homes. I know that some are doing this so that they can get a death certificate signed in a timely manner, but it takes no more time for a doctor to sign into the EDRS than it does for him to complete a paper copy.

I also want to address issues some areas are having with their local Health Department. I have spoken with Janet Rainey at length about the local HDs still accepting the paper copies. They are going to be reminded that outside of the extenuating circumstances part of the code, they can no longer accept them. Those circumstances are as follows: the doctor is licensed out of state and cannot utilize the EDRS, a technology or power outage makes the EDRS inaccessible, or if the family completes and files their own death certificate. Otherwise, the death certificate MUST be started, completed, and filed electronically. Again, I continue to work with Janet on this matter, and the local registrars are supposed to get a reminder in the July newsletter about this. When and if you encounter a doctor who will not sign electronically, please call the VFDA and we will get right on it for you.

Lastly, some of you have noticed the changes regarding cremation. While in the past we have been able to use any Local ME to view and sign off on cremations that has changed just slightly. For ALL Medical Examiner cases, your regional office is now who signs that form. That means you pay them and the office will sign and release the cremation form. The hope is that it cuts down on a body having to be viewed a second time by the local ME. On regular deaths, not involving the ME, you can still use your Local ME of choice. You may also re-assign the form once it has been sent to the ME. So if your Local ME of choice is unavailable to view, after you’ve already sent the form, you can log back into the EDRS and choose a different ME and then click the button that says re-assign and it will then be sent to the new ME. You may also now use alternative forms of payment to your local ME instead of a check. Now, the LME can setup Venmo or PayPal and your firms can pay by those means. The regional offices must still be paid by check for the time being. A module is being created which will allow for credit card payments to be made. If a circumstance occurs where the family had not chosen cremation when you leave the Regional Office, contact your office regarding payment and they will alert you as to how to proceed.

As always, the VFDA is continuing to work on your behalf. I confidently say that this association can take the lion’s share of the credit for how far we have come with the EDRS. That being said, our work is still not done and we will keep working going forward!

Thanks,
Jay
Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA President Elect
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Vice President


 

Legislative Alerts

September 3, 2020:
Take Action – Make Funeral Directors a Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine