CHICAGO – The State’s Cemetery Oversight Board met earlier today and adopted a resolution urging immediate passage of SB 699 or substantially similar legislation to address concerns regarding the implementation of the Cemetery Oversight Act signed by Governor Quinn last year. The Board also today welcomed its newest member, Judge Patricia Brown Holmes, who is the court-appointed trustee for the Burr Oak Cemetery Trust.
The Board’s resolution was partially in response to concerns expressed by some small cemeteries, which are often maintained by volunteers, regarding the possibility of cemetery abandonment once the original Cemetery Oversight Act was fully implemented. Today, the Board urged the General Assembly to pass a “trailer bill” to relieve potential burdens on small cemeteries, in particular, while preserving the important consumer protections established by the Act. Those protections include establishing a Cemetery Oversight Hotline (1-888-RLOVED1) and a Cemetery Oversight Database (www.ilcod.com), both of which have already been implemented. As of June 1, 21,919 of burials had been entered into the statewide database, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which enforces the Act, had handled 674 hotlinecalls from both consumers and the industry.
“Since the Cemetery Oversight Act was signed, we have heard a number of concerns from small cemeteries, legislators, and others regarding potential unintended consequences of the Act,” said Brent E. Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation. “SB 669 would address those concerns and permit us to move forward in fully implementing the Act.” Full implementation of the Act would include the adoption of rules. IDFPR’s first attempt at rules was blocked by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) on October 19, 2010.
SB 669, which already passed the House 86-29-1, is supported by a broad coalition including the Alliance of Illinois Cemeterians, the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Citizen Action/Illinois, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Illinois Municipal League, the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, SEIU Illinois Council, and the Township Officials of Illinois.
Today, the Board also welcomed as its newest member, Judge Holmes, who chaired Governor Quinn’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force. The Governor’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding the tragic events at Burr Oak Cemetery and provided detailed recommendations to the Governor on what policies, laws, rules and regulations should be implemented.
“I’m honored to be appointed to the Cemetery Oversight Board, and I’m eager to work with Governor Quinn and the Department in helping to continue to implement the consumer protections that became law last year,” said Judge Holmes.
An attorney and former prosecutor Holmes was recently approved by the US Bankruptcy Court as the Trustee of the Burr Oak Cemetery Trust, the new entity approved by the Bankruptcy Court to assume ownership of Burr Oak Cemetery. She is a partner with law firm Schiff Hardin LLP, served as an associate judge at the Circuit Court of Cook County, was a Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County.