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Delegate fights for funeral home license

April 03, 2001

Delegate fights for funeral home license



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Upset about the way a state licensing agency has treated a Hagerstown cemetery owner, a local lawmaker is resurrecting legislation in the Maryland General Assembly.

With a week to go in the legislature's 90-day session, Del. John P. Donoghue has filed a bill that would allow Rest Haven Cemetery owner Charles Brown to get a corporate cemetery license for Rest Haven Funeral Chapel.

Brown leases the funeral home to his son, Eric L. Brown, who is a licensed mortician.

Donoghue believes the State Board of Morticians is retaliating against the Brown family for seeking legislation to allow cemetery owners to own funeral homes, an accusation that Morticians Board President John P. Chaplin denies.

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Shortly after the bill was killed last month, the board told Eric Brown the funeral home's establishment license had lapsed.

The board had not yet transferred the license to Eric Brown from mortician Robert C. May.

Donoghue said he believes the board deliberately held up the licensing process because they don't want to open the industry to competition.

But Chaplin said the board was simply following the rules and procedures set for every funeral home in the state.

Eric Brown got a temporary establishment license within a week, he said. It would have been issued sooner, but the inspector's car broke down, Chaplin said.

The board can't issue a permanent license until its April 11 meeting.

Donoghue said he didn't want to take a chance that the license would be denied when the legislature isn't in session.

His bill would create a 60th corporate license for Rest Haven. No new corporate licenses have been issued since 1945 and many of those are owned by conglomerates.

Morticians argue that creating more corporate licenses will only encourage more conglomerates to take over family-owned funeral homes.

"Just because somebody goes to the state legislature doesn't mean they deserve a license," Chaplin said.

Charles Brown declined to comment for the story.

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