Early in the 2021 session Rep. Steve Malagari (D-Montgomery) circulated a co-sponsorship memo regarding lowering cremation temperatures in PA at the request of a constituent who operates a crematory in his district. PCCFA’s lobbyist, Morgan Plant, contacted Rep. Malagari to express our interest and we have been working together since then to get his bill, HB 1464, passed. Jason Benion, PCCFA’s counsel, brought considerable effort to this issue. His understanding of the more technical aspects of cremation and relationships with all of the stakeholders have been quite helpful. Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) introduced SB 765, which also dealt with this issue.
Rep. Malagari has been very engaged on this issue every step of the way. HB 1464 was unanimously voted out of the House Professional Licensure Committee on October 4, 2021. Subsequently the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) expressed concerns. PCCFA worked to get all stakeholders together with DEP on multiple occasions, starting with a meeting with DEP in November 2021. While our original intention was to bring the operating temperature down from 1800 to 1400 we settled on 1600 with DEP but have not been able to reach agreement with them on final language making appropriate distinctions about the permitting process. As a consequence, we will start over again in the new session. Currently we are still trying to reach agreement with DEP on language before the end of the current administration so we can tee the bill up for early introduction in the 2023 session with language acceptable to all parties. Those negotiations are ongoing.
During this process we have enjoyed great cooperation and support from stakeholders throughout the entire industry, including the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), PA Funeral Directors Association (PFDA), Matthews, American Crematory and others, who brought talent and expertise to the process.