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Summary: HB 52 seeks to regulate third party online burial plot brokers. This legislation would create a Cemetery Broker Registration system. “Cemetery brokers” (brokers) would be required to register contact information, including any internet or electronic address, with the Texas Department of Banking (department).
HB 52 establishes a complaint process for people to submit written complaints and the department may require brokers to resolve or respond to complaints. The Commissioner of the Texas Finance Commission (commissioner), upon notice and a hearing, would be able to revoke a broker’s registration for several reasons, including failures to pay fees, not resolving complaints, and for engaging in dishonest dealings.
The commissioner would be able to issue “emergency orders” if “immediate and irreparable harm is threatened to the public” by a broker that remains in effect until stayed by the commissioner. A person named in an emergency order may request an administrative hearing relating to the validity of the emergency order’s findings to show the order should be stayed. The commissioner would be invested with authority to penalize brokers for failure to comply with the law.
Analysis: HB 52 was filed in response to documentation issues created by the increasing number of online brokers selling burial plot rights but not documenting the transaction with the cemeteries. This creates a great deal of confusion when a bereaved family makes burial arrangements and the cemetery’s records do not reflect the change in ownership of the burial plot. HB 52 attempts address this problem by requiring online brokers to fully document transactions and comply with cemetery rules.
This bill will close a loophole in current law that does not require online brokers to record their transactions and subsequently causes confusion during a difficult time for families. The documentation brokers would be required to file would be no more onerous than that which is required for other real estate and property transactions. This supports the property rights of the burial plot owner by ensuring that the cemetery will appropriately recognize their right of ownership when it becomes necessary.