Billing Code 6750-01
16 CFR Part 453
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Action: Announcement of date of Public Workshop Conference
SUMMARY: The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") will hold a Public Workshop Conference in connection with the periodic regulatory review of the Commission's Trade Regulation Rule on Funeral Industry Practices, 16 C.F.R. Part 453 (the "Funeral Rule" or the "Rule"), and the comments received in response to the Commission's call for comments on that review.
DATES: The Public Workshop Conference will be held on November 18, 1999 at the FTC's Washington, D.C. headquarters. The Conference will run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Myra Howard, (202) 326-2047, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission adopted the Funeral Rule on September 24, 1982, and it became fully effective on April 30, 1984. (1) Subsequently, the Funeral Rule was amended as a result of a regulatory review and amendment proceeding begun in 1987; the amended Funeral Rule was published on January 11, 1994, and took effect July 19, 1994. (2) On May 5, 1999, the Commission again published a request for comment on the Rule, 64 FR 24250 ("FR Notice"), as part of its continuing program of periodic review of all of its trade regulation rules ("Rule Review") to determine their current effectiveness and impact. The FR Notice sought comment on the standard regulatory review questions, such as what are the costs and benefits of the Rule, whether there is a continuing need for the Rule, what changes in the Rule would increase the Rule's benefits to consumers and how those changes would affect compliance costs, and what changes in the marketplace and new technologies may affect the Rule.
The FR Notice also sought comment on several distinct issues: (1) Whether the Commission should amend the Rule by revising its definition of "funeral provider;" (2) Whether the Commission's casket handling fee prohibition has been effective and how it had affected consumers and funeral providers; (3) Whether the Commission should retain the provision that allows one, and only one, non-declinable fee to cover the basic services of the funeral director and staff; and (4) Whether the Commission should add, delete, or revise any of the required disclosures on the General Price List.
The initial deadline for written comments was July 12, 1999, but based on a number of requests from commenters, the deadline was extended until August 11, 1999. 64 FR 35965 (July 2, 1999). In its May 5, 1999 FR Notice regarding the regulatory review of the Funeral Rule, the Commission also stated that FTC staff would conduct a Public Workshop Conference to discuss the written comments received in response to the solicitation of comments pursuant to the Rule Review. The initial deadline to submit a request to participate in the public workshop was July 12, 1999, but was also extended until August 11, 1999.
The Public Workshop Conference, which will be held on November 18, 1999, will afford Commission staff and interested parties an opportunity to discuss openly issues raised during the Rule Review, and, in particular, to examine publicly any areas of significant controversy or divergent opinions that are raised in the written comments. Commission staff will consider the views and suggestions made during the Conference, in conjunction with the written comments, in formulating its final recommendation to the Commission concerning the Funeral Rule.
The Commission staff will select a limited number of parties to represent the significant interests affected by the Funeral Rule. These parties will participate in an open discussion of the issues. It is contemplated that the selected parties might ask and answer questions based on their respective comments.
In addition, the Conference will be open to the general public. Members of the general public who attend the Conference may have an opportunity to make a brief oral statement presenting their views on issues raised in the rule review process. Oral statements of views by members of the general public will be limited to a few minutes. The time allotted for these statements will be determined on the basis of the time available and the number of persons who wish to make statements. The discussion will be transcribed and placed on the public record. Written submissions of views, or any other written or visual materials, will not be accepted during the Conference.
To the extent possible, Commission staff will select parties to represent the following affected interests: Funeral homes; cemeteries; monument builders; third party sellers of funeral goods; trade organizations; consumer organizations; consumers; economists and academicians; Federal, State and local law enforcement and regulatory authorities; and any other interests that Commission staff may identify and deem appropriate for representation.
Parties representing the above-referenced interests will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
1. The party submitted a comment during the comment period ending on August 11, 1999.
The Conference will be facilitated by a Commission staff member. It will be held on November 18, 1999, at the Federal Trade Commission's headquarters, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Prior to the Conference, parties selected to represent an affected interest will be provided with copies of the comments submitted by all Conference participants. The Commission strongly encourages all interested individuals to participate in the Public Workshop Conference, as the transcripts from the Conferences will be an important part of the public record in this proceeding. Individuals wishing to make oral statements at the end of the day need not submit a request to participate, and the Commission will make every effort to provide time for all members of the general public to make statements regarding any of the rulemaking issues.
By direction of the Commission.
Donald S. Clark
1. 48 FR 45537.
2. 59 FR 1592.