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Coalition To Protect Maryland Burial Sites

Legislative Update


Hearing February 14, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Business Regulation - Cemeteries - Prohibited Acts and Penalties

Altering the penalties for violations of provisions of law relating to perpetual care trusts, preneed trusts, and the operation of a cemetery, crematory, or
burial goods business; providing that a person who willfully misappropriates or intentionally and fraudulently converts perpetual care trust funds or
preneed trust funds in excess of a specified amount is guilty of a felony and subject to a specified penalty; etc.

For more information:


Criminal Law - Destroying Funerary Objects - Revisions  

Synopsis: Repealing the element of willfulness in prohibitions relating to the destruction of funerary objects; and providing that prohibitions relating to the destruction of funerary objects do not prohibit specified repair, replacement, or maintenance activities.

Sponsors:   Delegate Carol S. Petzold, District 19

                    Delegate K. Bennett Bozman, District 38B

                    Delegate Norman H. Conway, District 38B

                    Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg, District 41

House Bill 410 as introduced proposed 2 amendments to the Criminal Law-Article, Title 10, Section 10-404 pertaining to cemeteries. The first amendment provided that it is not unlawful to remove, repair, or replace a funerary object, building, wall, fence, railing, or other object installed in a cemetery or burial site for the purpose of repair or replacement, either at the request of or with the permission of heirs or descendants of the deceased or the owner or manager of the cemetery or burial site.  The second amendment states the subsection does not prohibit normal horticultural maintenance of a burial site such as trimming trees and shrubs, removal of weeds or noxious growths, grass cutting, or other routine care and maintenance.  The bill was passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor on April 26th, and becomes effective on 1 October 2005.  Delegate Carol S. Petzold sent Jim Trader the pen the Governor used to sign the bill.

Fall 2004, Volume 12, Number 3, Coalition Courier

Proposed 2005 Legislative Program

In the 2004 Legislature, House Bill 817, sponsored by Delegates Carol S. Petzold, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and Delegate Bennett Bozman was introduced, on behalf of the Coalition, to amend sections of the Criminal Law, title 10 (Crime Against Public Health, Conduct, and Sensibilities) subtitle 4: Crimes Relating to Human Remains. After testimony supporting the proposed changes, the Committee took no action.  Changes were opposed by the Director of the Office of Cemetery Oversight and by an opinion of an Assistant Attorney General.

At the CPMBS Board meeting held August 8th the Board members agreed that we should again seek changes in the 2005 Legislative session and discussed a plan of action to contact members of the House Judiciary Committee.

The first proposal is to delete the word willfully in section 10-404 so that a State’s Attorney may present evidence to a court on damage to a burial site or funerary object by gross negligence or by accident and to hold the person(s) responsible for damages that were incurred by their action(s).  Under present law, heirs or descendants would have to file a private civil court action to seek damages or other redress.

In view of the opinion of the Criminal Law Articles Review Committee, Acts of 2002, that a literal reading of subsection (b) of section 10-404 prohibits normal and routine maintenance and horticultural care of trees, shrubs, and even lawns. An amendment will be proposed to allow normal horticultural maintenance of a cemetery or burial site, including trimming of trees and shrubs, removal of weeds or noxious growths, grass cutting, or other routine care and maintenance.

In order to involve heirs or descendants in the decision process to disinter and re-inter human remains, previous amendments to section 10-402 established specific procedures to apply to a State’s Attorney for written approval to move remains and to require certain documentation and public notice before any action could be taken. After approval by a State’s Attorney a permit must also be obtained from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

An amendment is proposed to delete section (e) of section 10-404, which bypasses the requirements in 10-402 as to public notice and efforts to contact heirs, and because section 10-403 specifically deals with removal of human remains or funerary objects, and because there is no such thing as a “abandoned” cemetery according to opinions from the Office of the State Attorney General, all of section (e) should be deleted.

[Editors’ Note:  To better understand the proposed changes it is recommended that you go to the Maryland Archives (link below) and click on Code of Maryland, then click on Criminal Law, then click on Title 10: Crimes Against Public Health, Conduct, and Sensibilities, then click on Subtitle 4: Crimes Relating to Human Remains. You can then read Sections 10-401 (Definitions), 10-402 (Removing human remains without authority), 10-403 (Removal of human remains or funerary object), and 10-404 (Cemetery-Destroying funerary objects; indecent conduct).]
James Trader

Winter 2001 - 2002, Volume 9, Number 4, Coalition Courier

Lacking a quorum at the last meeting, the Board discussed at the January 20, 2001 meeting, three revised draft bills of the Legislative Committee as outlined by Chairman James Trader and voted to seek passage in the next legislative session.  The bills sent to Delegate Carol S. Petzold (D), District 19, Montgomery County, were too late for introduction.  Copies of the draft bills were sent to Del. Petzold on July 10th with a request for sponsorship and a meeting to review the proposals.  Copies were also sent to Delegate David D. Rudolph (D) District 35B, Cecil County.

Mr. Trader met with Del. Petzold in her office in Annapolis on November 6th  and discussed the revised bill content, particularly H.B 358 on removal of human remains and amendments, also H.B. 364 on accidental discovery withdrawn in the 2000 session, and proposed amendments to Health-General Article 4-215 on permits for disinterment and reinterment of human remains. Del. Petzold agreed to sponsor the first two bills and indicated a sponsor would be needed for the third bill.  Copies were also sent to Delegate Elizabeth Bobo (D), District 12B, Howard County, with a request for sponsorship and discussed with Delegate K. Bennett Bozman (D), District 38, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties, who agreed to be a sponsor on the first two bills.

A copy of the Health Department bill was sent to Senator Martin G. Madden (R), District 13, Howard and Prince George’s Counties, with whom we discussed this proposal in 1998 and request for sponsorship.  His office was contacted on December 12th, the Secretary advising he will resign and not be a Senator when the session opens, would be in his office the next day to review the submittal and possible sponsors to contact on the legislation. Chairman Trader notified Del. Petzold of his contacts and requested copies of the draft bills to be introduced without changes in our proposed text for review before introduction.  The legislative session convenes on January 9th, 2002.

12/12/2001    James R. Trader, Chairman
Legislative Committee

Summer 2000, Volume 8, Number 2, Coalition Courier

 At the 1999 Legislative session, Coalition bills SB 451 and SB 452, sponsored by Senator Christopher McCabe, Senator John Hafer, and Delegate Carol Petzold, did not receive a favorable report following hearings in the House and Senate.  Based on comments made about the proposals and suggestions regarding content, our Legislative Committee Chairman, Jim Trader, revised the text and submitted draft copies to Delegate Bennett Bozman of Worcester County, who was asked to sponsor the bills.  Copies were also forwarded to Senator J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Delegate Norman H. Conway, Senator Martin Madden, and Delegate Elizabeth Bobo, who also agreed to be a sponsor with Delegate Bozman.

 Delegate Bozman provided copies to Delegate Carol Petzold, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, who agreed to be chief sponsor.  HB 358 Human Remains – Removal from Burial Sites – Authorization and Procedures, and HB 364 Graveyard Desecration – Discovered Human Remains and Disturbed Burial Sites, as drafted by the Department of Legislative Services, differed greatly in many areas from the Coalition proposal.  Chairman Trader received them on February 2, 2000, and wrote to Delegate Petzold about the problem; however, the bills had already been filed.  Both bills were heard on February 15 in the House Judiciary Committee hearing, during which Chairman Trader offered testimony and written comments to members.  HB 358 with amendments was approved on February 25; however HB 364 was withdrawn by Delegate Petzold for reasons unknown at this time.  Only Delegate Petzold could speak at the March 28 hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee; however, Chairman Trader provided written comments on HB 358 to committee members.

 HB 358 was signed by the Governor on May 18, 2000, as Chapter 591, effective October 1, 2000.  It provides for a one-time public notice on application to a State’s Attorney to disinter and re-inter human remains before approval is granted, and it increases the penalty for convicted violation of Article 27, Section 265 from $5,000 to $10,000.  However it reduces imprisonment from 5-to-15 years to a maximum sentence of 5 years.

 Section 267 requires the State’s Attorney to give written approval to remove or replace an “associated funerary object” (gravestone, monument, etc.), restricting rights of burial space owners to repair or replace monuments, etc.  The Coalition was unable to have the reference to “abandoned” cemetery deleted and will again next year have to return to the Legislation to seek correction of problems in the legislation.

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