Thursday, May 5, 2011

Training for tomorrow's embalmers gets boost from Kirby legislation today

Do you have a calling for embalming? Folks possessed of such a career yen here in the Evergreen State have only Lake Washington Technical College’s nationally accredited program as their in-state choice for training. Unfortunately for Lake Washington’s program, and for its students and would-be students, pre-2011 state law prevented the school from acquiring the human remains needed for men and women undertaking the training.

Enter state Rep. Steve Kirby, who stepped in this year with a solution in the form of his House Bill 1691. Having unanimously cleared both legislative chambers, Kirby’s measure is now all queued up in the governor’s office awaiting only that gubernatorial ink to become Washington state law.

“Most mortuary programs in other states have access to human remains. That access gives these other programs an edge because they can provide an extraordinary educational opportunity for their students,” Kirby said. “Embalmers-in-training need to perform 10 of these procedures to earn their accreditation. This legislation provides our Washington students appropriate educational access to human remains that they need to earn the professional training that they require.”

The 39 Washington counties are required by state law to take care of the disposition of the remains of any indigent person whose body is unclaimed by their relatives or a religious organization. King County's indigent-burial program is facing financial difficulties. Kirby’s bill provides welcome help for the proper disposition of indigent remains in King County. Lake Washington Technical College’s program will save tax dollars because fees paid by its embalming-students will cover cremation costs.