State Board Issues Statement
Posted on 08/17/12 12:32 PMThe Technical Corrections and Other Changes Act became law on July 17, 2012. The bill adds to NCGS Chapter 90, Section 210.25B as it pertains to eligibility for licensure in the practice of funeral service in North Carolina. Specifically, this bill states that those persons convicted of sexual offenses against minors will be ineligible to be licensed in our state; if already licensed their license will not be renewed. It is the understanding of the Board of Funeral Service that this section was added at the request of a state legislator due to the concerns discussed below.
The subject legislation has received a fair amount of media attention, as well as within the funeral service profession in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the accuracy of some of the information being disseminated through formal and informal channels is inconsistent. To clarify the facts:
The legislator contacted the NC Board of Funeral Service, in addition to three other agencies, asking for clarification of the rules regarding the licensing of transport services and funeral service professionals. The interest began after having seen two news articles concerning a licensee who had pled guilty to three felonies in 1994. The legislator noted conversations with other legislators about the issue, and that they may be considering legislation. It is important to note that in recent years, if there were any question as to whether an applicant’s criminal conviction(s) might constitute a lack of moral character, the case would be referred to the Board for a full hearing on whether a license or permit should be issued or renewed. The Board provided a detailed, hand-delivered response to the legislator’s questions. The response included an explanation of the guidelines, as well as answers to specific questions posed concerning the particular operation. Subsequently, the Board’s Executive Director and legal counsel met with the legislator to discuss the Board’s response and to answer any follow-up questions.
The Board’s Laws and Rules Committee discussed the item in a teleconference in advance of the regular board meeting on March 14. The committee recommendation was that the Board staff and legal counsel draft some proposed language for presentation. After discussion, the Board approved a motion to allow staff and Laws & Rules Committee to make recommendations to the legislator.
The Board communicated next with the legislator on March 30, 2012 via hand-delivered memo. The memo recapped the earlier meeting and commented on the March 14 regular board meeting, stating the the Board would not be opposed to prohibiting licensure, registration or the issuing of permits (or renewals) for anyone convicted of a sex offense against a minor, as well as certain other felonies. The Board asked “to participate in the process so that so that it can be assured that there is no ambiguity in the new law.” A draft of potential language, prepared by counsel, was submitted along with the memo. At this time, the Board did not know if legislative changes would occur and if so, to what extent. Except to the extent that the Board was permitted to offer suggestions, the Board had no additional role in the process.