ON-Lion Letter
Wisconsin strictly prohibits the joint ownership of funeral homes and cemeteries.  The MacIver Institute in Madison, Wis., in conjunction with two economists, has determined that this unneeded prohibition will cost families in the Badger State at least $15.5 million over the next 10 years.

Wisconsin's law, first adopted more than 70 years ago, says, "No cemetery [may] permit a funeral establishment to be located [there]," nor have a "financial interest" in one.  During the last state-legislative session, legislation that would repeal the prohibition on joint ownership was introduced.  During debate over that legislation, some said that better empirical evidence was needed.

In August, MacIver reported on the evidence it gathered with David E. Harrington, the Himmelright Professor of Economics at Kenyon College, and Jaret Treber, an associate professor of economics at Kenyon College.  According to the report, Wisconsinites would realize significant savings -- anywhere from $15.5 million to $27.6 million over the next 10 years -- if state government would let the free market work.

While Wisconsin and Michigan are the only two states that strictly prohibit combination ("combo") funeral homes and cemeteries, there are nine other states and the District of Columbia that have some type of regulation on joint ownership.

"Anti-combo laws prevent the free market from finding the best price for consumers," MacIver's Nick Novak writes. "If Wisconsin did not have this law, new businesses could enter the market, ensuing greater competition within the industry and giving consumers more choice.  The research shows that this government regulation is one more obstacle that is costing Wisconsinites millions."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the MacIver Institute.
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