DENVER (KDVR) — A bipartisan-heralded bill was just signed into state law following recent events that have eroded the public’s trust in businesses that provide services for the dead.
In September of 2021, the former Lake County Coroner, Shannon Kent, was found guilty of “official misconduct,” in relation to alleged body tampering, falsifying of death certificates, and his habit of sending his wife in response to call in his stead, despite her not being sworn in as a deputy.
On Monday, Governor Polis signed HB22-1703, or as it is alternatively known, the “Funeral Establishment And Crematory Inspection” bill, into law.
“I wish we did not have to pass bills like this but I am thankful we got this done and passed in a bipartisan way,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, who represented some of those impacted by Kent’s questionable actions.
Now that it is passed, the director of the Division of Professions and Occupations can enter the premises of registered funeral establishments and crematories during business hours to conduct inspections. It is outlined within the bill’s text that the director may contract with a third party to perform the inspection.
This aims to minimize the likelihood of occurrences like when Lake County deputies found Kent’s Leadville funeral home to be unsanitary including a newborn body among other bodies, and with some lacking the proper identification paperwork. During this instance, officers also found one body that was not properly refrigerated.
Perhaps the most powerful driving force behind this bill becoming law was the incident where Kent allegedly mixed an infant’s ashes with remains from another body.
“This law will make it easier for state agencies to identify negligence in funeral homes and crematories so no more families in Colorado will have to endure the heartbreak caused by the Kent Funeral Homes and others in our state,” said Roberts.
Roberts was one of the four prime sponsors on the heavily bipartisan bill, also championed by Rep. Matt Soper, Sen. Don Soram and Sen. Kerry Donovan.