H. B. 2385
(By Delegates Manchin, Caputo and Longstreth)
[Introduced January 12, 2011; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §35-5-9, relating to creating a board and fund to be used to maintain cemeteries that have been abandoned.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §35-5-9, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. CEMETERIES.
§35-5-9. Cemetery Maintenance Fund; and creation of Cemetery Maintenance Board.
(a) The Legislature hereby creates the Cemetery Maintenance Fund.
(b) Burial grounds or other cemeteries incorporated under this article shall contribute to the Cemetery Maintenance Fund for the maintenance of abandoned cemeteries, including, but not limited to, lawn care, construction or repair of cemetery fences, placement of cemetery lights and replacement of cemetery doors and locks, the restoration of property damaged by acts of vandalism, and for the repair or removal of monuments or other markers not owned by the cemetery corporation that have fallen into disrepair or dilapidation so as to create a dangerous condition.
(c) The fund is financed by:
(1) Fees by the cemetery corporations of not more than $5 per interment or cremation in a manner to be determined by rule of the Cemetery Maintenance Board. No contributions may be collected upon the interment of the remains of a deceased person where a contribution was collected upon cremations; and
(2) Two percent of the gross sales proceeds or $50, whichever is greater, received from the sale of any burial right or lot and not less than two percent of the gross sales proceeds from the sale of any entombment right or columbarium right.
(d) All fees collected under this section are deposited in the special account in the State Treasury known as the “Cemetery Maintenance Fund.” Expenditures from the fund are for the purposes set forth in this section. The assets of the fund may be invested and reinvested by the board in accordance with state law. If the balance of the fund on December 31 of any year equals or exceeds $500,000, no more fees or taxes are to be taken from burial grounds or incorporated cemeteries.
(e) The fund shall be administered by the Cemetery Maintenance Board comprised of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, or their designees, who shall serve without additional compensation.
(f) The Cemetery Maintenance Board shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code defining when standards of maintenance for lawn care, construction or repair of cemetery fences, placement of cemetery lights and replacement of cemetery doors and locks, the restoration of property damaged by acts of vandalism, and for the repair or removal of monuments or other markers not owned by the cemetery corporation that have fallen into disrepair or dilapidation so as to create a dangerous condition.
(g) Nothing contained in this section gives a burial ground or cemetery corporation an "insurable interest" in monuments or other embellishments on a plot, lot or part thereof, nor is it meant to imply that the cemetery corporation has any responsibility for repairing vandalism damage not covered by this fund, nor for repairing or removing out of repair or dilapidated monuments or other markers not owned by the cemetery corporation, nor shall it constitute the doing of an insurance business.
(h) The use of funds from the Cemetery Maintenance Fund on any abandoned burial ground or cemetery is only triggered after that burial ground or cemetery’s private permanent endowment fund has been exhausted.
(i) This section does not apply to any private or family cemetery wherein lots or spaces are not offered for public sale or to any cemetery which is owned and operated entirely and exclusively by churches, religious societies, established fraternal organizations, municipalities or other subdivisions of the state or a national cemetery.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a fund and board which will oversee the upkeep and beautification of cemeteries which have been abandoned by private corporations or people.
This section is new; therefore, it has been completely underscored.