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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 8, 2019 11:35 AM
From: Representative Gerald J. Mullery
To: All House members
Subject: Neglected Burial Grounds
Across the Commonwealth, many burial grounds are lacking the necessary care that those interred within deserve. Between plant overgrowth and crumbling tombstones, these grounds do not provide a worthy resting place for those who came before us, nor do they add to the beauty of the communities in which they are located as they once had. Pennsylvania is in desperate need of an appropriate solution to this issue.

When burial grounds are neglected to the point of becoming a nuisance, state law allows residents living within a 5-mile radius of the property to petition the court to have care duties transferred to the local municipality. This law, which is severely outdated, directs municipalities to spend no more than $30 on maintenance costs per calendar year. When this law was enacted in 1923, $30 may have been sufficient. Unfortunately, in 2018, $30 is simply not enough.

As elected officials, we not only have a legal obligation to ensure that these grounds are well taken care of, we have a moral obligation to do so. As such, I will soon introduce legislation to modernize state law and increase the amount of money that a municipality may spend on burial ground maintenance from $30 to $5,000. Please join me in this effort to ensure that all Pennsylvanians – past, present, and future – will be well taken care of in their final resting place.

Introduced as HB791