Kentucky Senate votes to give counties cremation option for indigents

Republished from WEKU.

County officials would have options when it comes to a final resting state for indigent bodies under a bill moving in the Kentucky General Assembly. Current law requires the burial of these people.

SB 163, approved 27 to nine with one pass, allows for cremation of indigents. GOP Bill Sponsor Greg Elkins told fellow senators as the indigent population continues to rise, it becomes a larger burden for counties. Elkins doesn’t expect many cremated remains to be placed on a shelf.

“Counties are going to continue to bury them. It will just take up a much smaller burial plot, so in some of these larger counties they’re running out of space in their indigent cemeteries. This will give them the option to extend that longer without having to go buy another piece of property and create another graveyard,” said Elkins.

Elkins said efforts are made to reach other family through various means, usually over two to three weeks.

In explaining his “no” vote, GOP Senator John Schickel offered an emotional account of the death of a Russian indigent when he was a county jailer. Schickel said three years after the burying of the body, a relative came from Russia to visit the burial site.

“What kind of society are we where the most forgotten, the most poor, people with no family, homeless, immigrants killed on the expressway and we want to cut corners on what we do here,” said Schickel.

A few senators of both political parties waited until after Schickel’s speech to cast or change a vote. One senator specifically said the northern Kentucky lawmaker’s comments caused her to change from a yes to a no vote.

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.