NewsCovering Colorado


Governor Polis signs bills into law over guidelines for funeral facilities

Posted at 6:32 PM, May 24, 2024

COLORADO — Governor Polis signed several bills into law on Friday regarding new guidelines funeral facilities must adhere to.

The bills signed included:

SB24-173, Regulate Mortuary Science Occupations: Concerning the regulation of persons providing mortuary science services.

HB24-1335, Sunset Continue Mortuary Science Code Regulation: Concerning the continuation of the regulation of persons related to the final disposition of deceased human bodies, and, in connection therewith, implementing the recommendations in the 2023 sunset report by the department of regulatory agencies and making an appropriation.

HB24-1254, Sunset Regulation of Nontransplant Tissue Banks: Concerning the continuation of the regulation of nontransplant tissue banks, and, in connection therewith, implementing recommendations contained in the 2023 sunset report by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

“When grieving the loss of a loved one, the last thing a family should worry about is the trustworthiness and professionalism of those entrusted to care for the person who has passed. I am proud to be signing these bills to require state inspections of facilities and create stronger standards for these facilities,” said Governor Polis.

The bills were signed following several cases of notoriety in Colorado involving funeral facility services.

One of the cases involved a man, Miles Harford, in Denver who was discovered to have the remains of a woman and cremains of at least 30 other people.

Harford also reportedly exchanged false cremains of loved ones with families who had experienced loss. Harford had previously owned Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services in Littleton. Due to financial issues, Harford admitted to swapping cremains to families who wanted to hold a service. He was also in debt with local cremators who began to blacklist him because of his debts.

The second case involved a funeral home in Penrose that was holding 200 corpses in their building.

This case involved a couple, the Hallfords, who were arrested and face charges of abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering, and forgery.

News5 Alasyn Zimmerman began investigating the requirements to be elected as coroner in Colorado's 64 counties. They were:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • not a felon
  • registered to vote in the county you run in

Through the investigation, News5 spoke with El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelley, who was instrumental in pushing for these changes.
"We haven't evolved really in any meaningful way in the last 100-plus years, in that anyone can run for that position," said Dr. Kelly. "There are essentially no meaningful qualifications for the individual who can run to become the coroner, regardless of whether this is a town or a county of 5,000 people or a major metropolitan area that's approaching a million people."

WATCH: New effort underway to try and change who can run for county coroner

Senate Bill 173 also changes the requirements for the following to be licensed in order to practice in Colorado:

  • funeral directors
  • embalmers
  • cremationists
  • other mortuary science professionals

WATCH: Proposed bill could change requirements to become a Funeral Director in Colorado


'Not another one,' three people rescued from Arkansas River, one still missing

The Otero County Sheriff's Office, La Junta Fire, and several other agencies are searching for a man who went missing in the Arkansas River on Wednesday morning.

Rescue crews search for 19-year-old boy around Arkansas River

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