3 bills aim to strengthen requirements of Colorado's funeral home industry

colorado state capitol rotunda
Posted at 9:51 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 00:33:22-05

DENVER — State leaders have crafted three bills aimed at strengthening the requirements of Colorado's funeral home industry.

The legislative trio comes on the heels of a renewed push in Colorado for stricter regulations on funeral home directors. Just this month, a woman's remains and the cremains of at least 30 other people were recovered from a Denver property rented by a former funeral home director.

Last year, the owners of a Montrose funeral home that doubled as a body broker on the Western Slope were sentenced to federal prison. A former Lake County Coroner was sentenced to 180 days in jail for mishandling the corpse of a stillborn baby in his funeral home related to actions from 2020.

In October 2023, reports of a horrific smell coming from a funeral home in southern Colorado sparked an investigation that led to the discovery of 189 bodies decomposing inside of Return to Nature Funeral Home. Jon and Carie Hallford, the owners of Return to Nature Funeral Home, face more than 250 charges each. They are set to be arraigned in March.

miles harford.jpg

Local News

Search continues for man wanted after human cremains found on Denver property

Stephanie Butzer
2:55 PM, Feb 22, 2024

Funeral homes and crematories are regulated, which is necessary to register with the state, but funeral home directors do not have to be licensed.

“It's one thing to hold the business entity accountable. But at the end of the day, it's actually the people who work within the funeral home that you really want to be held accountable," said State Representative Matt Soper, R - Delta and Mesa Counties. "You really want the onus and the obligation on them.”

Soper is sponsoring two bills surrounding the state's funeral home industry, one of which was introduced Wednesday.

“Two years ago, we worked on another law that gave the Department of Regulatory Affairs the power to actually go in and investigate a funeral home. The bill we introduced Wednesday makes 11 changes. Not all of them are high level or significant, but some of the ones that are significant play off the bill we passed two years ago," said Soper. “It gives DORA the ability to investigate and inspect a funeral home at any time, not just during normal business hours. That's kind of a significant change. Another change is it gave the head of DORA the ability to write rules regarding chain of custody of a body. So we know where the body has been within the funeral home, to be able to have more robust rules that actually put force behind the Colorado mortuary science code and part of the code that we see a lot of violations on concerns refrigeration."

Return to Nature Funeral Home

Local News

State recommends Colorado legislators regulate funeral directors

Colette Bordelon
10:33 PM, Jan 01, 2024

Soper is most excited about a bill that will likely be introduced during the first week of March. He said it aims to license funeral home directors, morticians, cremationists and embalmers.

The bill is still being drafted, but Soper said it would create a mortuary science practitioner license that would include embalming, cremating and funeral directing. However, Soper said there would still be individual licenses available for the same careers.

A third bill, House Bill 24-1254, would continue the regulation of nontransplant tissue banks for nine years.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.