Illinois Senate votes to undo cemetery regulations

April 15, 2011

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Legislators in Springfield are considering a measure that would undo some cemetery regulations in the state.

The Illinois Senate approved legislation that would cut back on a statewide task force designated to oversee cemeteries. The bill would also draw back a new requirement that cemeteries must submit burial records into a state database.

Those procedures were enacted after an investigation into Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, where Cook County Sheriff's police uncovered an alleged scheme to re-sell burial plots.

State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, said Burr Oak was one bad apple out of a state of compliant cemeteries.

"Nothing could've prevented any wrongdoing from what happened at Burr Oak Cemetery," Jones said.

Meanwhile, Steve Patterson, spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff, said his office is still receiving new complaints about conditions at other cemeteries around Chicago.

"(The legislation) sort of goes back to a Wild West days where anything goes, including double burials and dumping bodies in the back of a cemetery and we just don't want to see it go back to that," Patterson said.

The bill still needs approval in the Illinois House.