Regulation

MN Funeral Home Challenges Burdensome Rules Requiring Unneeded Equipment

Existing companies love expensive barriers to entry

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A Minnesota judge on Monday will be asked to decide if the government can require entrepreneurs to spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary equipment before opening a new funeral home.

At issue is a Minnesota state law that requires Verlin Stoll to spend about $30,000 building an embalming room that he does not need and will not use at a new funeral home he hopes to open in the Twin Cities. The government argues the requirement is necessary to protect public health, but the attorneys representing Stoll say the law is meant to limit competition and drive up the price of funeral services in the state.

The state law requires all funeral homes to have embalming equipment, even if the owners do not use it.

There is no requirement in state law for corpses to be embalmed and funeral homes are allowed to outsource embalming services to third parties, which is what Stoll does at his one existing location — though he did spend the extra money to have the proper equipment installed at his St. Paul location when he opened in 2011.