Two proposed bills for the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly, we believe, would be supported by most Kentuckians and deserve passage.
A bill filed by state Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, would require cemeteries to maintain a database of the precise locations of each grave space, ensure that every grave holding remains has some kind of marker and to separate plots from one another by at least 6 inches.
These sound like reasonable requirements.
One case illustrating the need for this bill involves Louisville resident Bill Dudley. Dudley brought the near-absence of cemetery regulations to Clark’s attention shortly after Dudley’s mother’s plot, which was beside the plot of his father in Evergreen Cemetery, was revealed to contain the forgotten body of an 8-year-old girl who died in the 1950s. This news came the day after Mother’s Day and 13 months after another body was discovered in a niece’s plot. Dudley moved his mother and father elsewhere in the cemetery at no cost so they could be buried together.
If cemeteries had better databases, unfortunate instances such as this likely wouldn’t have happened. We understand that technology has come a long way since the 1950s and cemeteries are better equipped now to keep databases of precise locations of each grave space.
Incidents such as Dudley’s still could happen at other cemeteries throughout the state, especially in older cemeteries that contain family plots.
No one should have to go through believing their parents or other loved ones will be buried next to one another, only to find out that a body already is contained in the space. That is why this is such an important bill.
Kevin Kirby of J.C. Kirby & Son Funeral Chapels and Crematory and Bowling Green Gardens cemetery also made a good case for the passage of the bill by saying the 6-inch minimum would lessen the chance of damaging a casket while digging a neighboring grave. “That needs to be the standard,” Kirby said.
Currently, there is no law regarding space between graves. That needs to change.
For this and the reasons we have mentioned, we believe this should be a piece of common-sense legislation that all lawmakers would get behind next year and pass in a timely manner.
Another piece of legislation we are backing is from state Rep. Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester, that would expand the Kentucky Safe Infants Act to add staffed churches to the safe haven list that now includes hospitals, police and fire stations where infants can legally be abandoned. Mayfield’s bill would also protect emergency medical providers, police officers, firefighters or church staff members with immunity from civil or criminal liability while acting in an infant’s best interest, such as taking the infant to an emergency room.
This, too, is common-sense legislation. There are some mothers who bring children into this world and, for an array of reasons, don’t feel like they can take care of them. So they abandon them at places such as hospitals or police stations.
Allowing mothers to abandon infants at churches provides them another legal option, and provides a chance to abandon their child where staff members can take the baby to a hospital, where the baby can be cared for and eventually be adopted by another family.
Stephen Harmon, spokesman for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, supports the bill and makes a good argument for it.
Harmon says it would provide mothers another option to relinquish their infants without being intimidated by walking into a police station. He says if the mother feels there are no other options, this bill would provide another option for the child.
This, too, seems to be common-sense legislation that our General Assembly should get behind when legislators convene in January.
Daily News of Bowling Green