It hasn’t happened yet, not even a little bit, but as we campaign for reasonable cemetery laws, we can anticipate that someone somewhere will claim that better written laws will put a damper on South Dakota business.
So let’s have a few counterarguments in our back pocket in case something like this ever pops up online or in person.
Here’s one: We have evidence right in front of us that feeble cemetery laws don’t do South Dakota businesses much good at all. There are all kinds of local companies in Huron and Beadle County that do business with cemeteries, those that provide vehicle parts and repairs, for instance, and those that sell building materials, lawn care equipment, office supplies, and more. If cemeteries like Restlawn aren’t being held to their contractual obligations about upkeep, then they aren’t contributing to the local economy much. Even worse, they can leave unpaid bills around town, meaning that small businesses have had to shell out for goods and services without being paid. We don’t know the current status of Restlawn’s accounts in the area, but when we first launched the Restlawn Alliance, we heard both directly and indirectly from local firms who were hoping that we could help them collect on past due bills.
Here’s a related idea: If the feet of a cemetery corporation arebeing held to the fire in terms of their contracts, then that business is employing more people or at least is employing their current staff for more hours. So those folks are bringing home more in their paychecks, which, to a large extent, they are probably spending at other area businesses. That old saying about how a rising tide floats all boats applies here.
Finally, if we are really concerned about South Dakota businesses—and we are—let’s keep in mind that owners of cemetery corporations may not be located in the state where the cemetery itself is situated. The assets that local residents have paid into these corporations through pre-need contracts then can just drain out of the state. It is South Dakota’s interest to make sure that these out-of-state owners—and those in state, for that matter—are required to do right.
All told, sensible cemetery laws protect families, but they also bolster the local economy, making them a win all the way around. And besides, such laws will help us honor our loved ones, our ultimate goal.
P.S. Our next specific suggestion about putting some muscle into South Dakota cemetery laws is coming later this week. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet asked South Dakota legislators to tighten up the existing financial reporting law, please check out how to make this request in the post right before this one, “Being Our Own Heroes.” We promise that contacting those legislators about this will take you five minutes, tops.