Walsh bill to allow private property family burials unanimously approved by the House

A bill sponsored by Washington State Rep. Jim Walsh unanimously passed out of the House today.

House Bill 1037 would allow family burials on private property. The measure seeks to change the state’s current law, which requires all burials to be conducted by registered cemetery corporations.

“One of the great traditions of living in the West is the ability to bury your family, and when the time comes yourself, on land that you or your family owns,” said Walsh, R-Aberdeen. “Doing so was commonplace in the early years of our state. But in recent years it has become less clear in the law whether it’s legal at all. Really, this is simply a clarifying bill ― within certain parameters ― that allows those long-held traditions to continue.”

Under HB 1037, property owners would have the ability to declare land they own a “family burial ground.” Regulations in the proposal would require property owners to register the final resting place of their family members and disclose any burials on the property to potential buyers.

Walsh was careful to point out that privately owned family plots would not be allowed to become any sort of commercial cemetery business.

“My bill does not create a loophole for a cemetery business. It clearly states that the family burial plot is just that – a small section of land that complies with all usual guidelines and use restrictions for burying family members.”

The 19th District lawmaker also noted the bill was introduced based on several constituent requests to see this change in the law.

“The idea for this bill came from several groups, including some tribal members, living in my district,” continued Walsh. “It means a great deal to them and others across the state that would like to have better options when it comes to private property family burials. In the spirit of the West and of property rights, I believe this is a good and important bill.

HB 1037 was approved 95 to 0, with three excused. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 23.


Washington State House Republican Communications