Mullery introduces bill to ensure burial grounds receive necessary care

HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, recently introduced legislation that would increase the amount of money municipalities can spend on burial ground maintenance to prevent neglect and overgrowth.

“Cemeteries are meant to be a beautiful and peaceful place to lay our loved ones to rest, but unfortunately some burial grounds end up overrun with plants, weeds and crumbling tombstones because they lack the necessary care that those interred within deserve,” Mullery said. “Under my legislation, municipalities would be able to increase the amount of money they can spend on burial ground maintenance to ensure the lands are well kept for Pennsylvanians past, present and future.”

Current Pennsylvania law designates that when burial grounds are neglected to the point of becoming a nuisance, residents living within a 5-mile radius of the property may 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“This law, which is severely outdated, directs municipalities to spend no more than $30 on maintenance costs per calendar year.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 2021, $30 is simply not enough.”

Under H.B. 1841, state law would be updated and the $30 spending limit on burial ground maintenance for municipalities would be increased to $5,000.

Mullery said his legislation has been referred to the House Local Government Committee for further consideration.