Montana Funeral Directors Association

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  • 24 May 2017 10:02 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Both the House and Senate were hard at work last week; however, much of their work was overshadowed this week by the aftermath of President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.

    The House passed several bills last week, the most significant of which was the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act, which identifies specific sanctions against Syria and requires the president to levy sanctions on specific individuals the bill identifies as responsible for or in support of crimes against humanity. Other bills passed by the House pertained to matters of national security, border security, combating antisemitism.

    There were talks this week that the House’s Obamacare repeal bill could face a revote, once the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases their score of the bill. The American Healthcare Act is a budget reconciliation bill and, to meet reconciliation standards, the CBO must find that the bill will reduce government spending by at least $2 billion. While a revote is unlikely, House leaders have yet to send their healthcare bill to the Senate for consideration.

    H.R. 1212, The BRAVE Act, picked up four new cosponsors this week from both sides of the aisle Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL). Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH).

    In the Senate last week, a bipartisan group began pushing back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ order directing federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible. The group reintroduced the Justice Safety Valve Act, which gives judges the ability to impose sentences below the mandatory minimums when appropriate; a companion bill was also introduced in the House.

    The Senate also confirmed Jeffrey Rosen to be the Deputy Secretary of Transportation in a vote of 56-42 and Rachel Brand to be the Associate Attorney General in a 52-46 vote.

    The drama surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey continued last week. On Tuesday, Comey released a memo saying the President asked the former FBI Director to end the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his possible ties to Russia during a meeting in February. Several members of Congress expressed their outrage with the President’s actions, a few called for the President’s impeachment. On Wednesday, the Justice Department named a special prosecutor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to take over the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties between Russian officials and Trump’s team. The appointment got significant bipartisan praise from lawmakers.

    For those of you who just can’t get enough D.C. drama, the Congressional Research Service developed a guide to help you understand the Justice Department naming a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, including any possible involvement of President Donald Trump's campaign in that effort.


  • 16 May 2017 9:23 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)
    May 14, 2017

    During the last two weeks, both the House and Senate have been busy tackling health care, trying to avoid a government shutdown, dealing with the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, and responding to the firing of FBI Director James Comey. There is also exciting news to report on the BRAVE Act (H.R. 1212), which would improve funeral and burial benefits for veterans.

    Repealing and Replacing the Affordable Care Act

    Two weeks ago, the House narrowly passed H.R. 128, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), on a 217-213 vote. Several revisions were made to this Obamacare repeal bill since it was first introduced by Republicans. The biggest question was whether preexisting conditions would be protected under the AHCA. The original bill continued protections for people with preexisting conditions but an amendment was brought forth to allow states the option to waive those protections. There was significant opposition to this amendment; it was partially resolved by an amendment that provides $8 billion to states over a five-year period to help those with preexisting conditions make payments on higher premiums.

    Last week Republican senators continued to work on their version of the AHCA. Senate Republican leadership assured the public that they would include a variety of voices in the discussion. Likely changes to the House’s bill will focus on Medicaid and increased financial assistance to help low-income American afford health insurance.

    Avoiding a Government Shutdown

    Two weeks ago, the House passed a $1.16 trillion omnibus to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The bill provides additional funding for national defense, border security, and other emergency needs, while almost every provision that the President asked to be included in the bill was left out. There are continued questions on how much the bill will cost.

    Last week, the Senate quickly took up the omnibus; it passed by a vote of 79-18 and was sent to the President for his signature.

    Veterans Affairs Legislation

    Both the Senate and the House introduced legislation recently introduced legislation aimed to fix the outdated, lengthy veterans appeals process. The VA Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 includes three difference pathways that veterans could take to pursue their appeal. Additionally, unlike previous versions of this bill, the 2017 bill would allow some veterans waiting for years on a decision to begin using the expedited path in the new veterans’ appeals process.

    H.R. 1212, The BRAVE Act, continued to build momentum in the House. Thanks to the hard work of NFDA members during the Advocacy Summit, five additional members of Congress from both sides of the aisle signed on as co-sponsors: Rep. Ralph Lee Abraham (R-LA), Rep. Steven M. Palazzo (R-MS), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Ann M. Kuster (D-NH), and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

    Russia and James Comey

    Last week, James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, and Sally Yates, former acting attorney general, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yates stated that she warned the White House multiple times about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn being comprised and vulnerable to being blackmailed by the Russians. This alarmed many senators, given that Flynn was not fired until 18 days after Yates briefed White House staff and during that time, Flynn was included in multiple classified meetings.

    FBI Director James Comey also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was supposed to discuss general oversight of the FBI, but his testimony quickly turned into a rehashing of the 2016 presidential election. Comey indicated that he did not regret sending a letter to lawmakers 11 days before the election revealing new evidence possibly related to its investigation involving Hillary Clinton.

    In a move that shocked many, the President fired Comey last week, which caused the Senate to focus most of their time on the dismissal and the implications it could have on the Russia investigation. Democrat senators voiced concerns on the reasoning behind the firing and called for an independent investigator to take up the Russia investigation.

    Confirmations

    The Senate confirmed Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to be Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) Chairman in a 61-37 vote. The Senate also confirmed Scott Gottlieb to be the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Association in a 57-42 vote and Robert Lighthizer to be the United States Trade Representative in an 82-14 vote. Heather Wilson was confirmed by the Senate to be the Secretary of the Air Force in a 76-22 vote.


  • 16 May 2017 9:04 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    NFDA News

    NFDA Work/Life Resource Program (EAP): Free Webinar – Preventing Suicide in the Workforce

    May 14, 2017

    During the entire month of May, the NFDA Work/Life Resource Program (EAP), a benefit of your membership, is offering a free, on-demand webinar, Preventing Suicide in the Workforce.

    According to the International Association for Suicide prevention, most people who die by suicide are of working age. As a manager, you can create a leadership-driven, safety-oriented culture committed to dramatically reducing suicide.

    Attend this webinar to be able to:

    ·         Explain suicide myths or misconceptions about suicide

    ·         Identify suicide risk factors and precipitating life events

    ·         Recognize potential warning signs of suicide

    ·         Identify suicide prevention and intervention strategies and resources

    Click the following link to watch the webinar on a day and time that’s convenient for you: https://www.achievesolutions.net/achievesolutions/en/nfda/Content.do?contentId=46140

    If you have questions or need support, the NFDA Work/Life Resource Program offers free, confidential assistance by phone and online. For more information about the wide range of tools and resources available to you, visit www.nfda.org/worklife (log in required).


  • 06 Apr 2017 10:27 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Registration for the 2017 MFDA Annual Convention and Trade Show, June 9-11 is open! Forms have been mailed out both through snail-mail and email along with being available here on our website on the Convention Page here.

    The hotel room blocks are available for reservation as well at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bozeman, MT so be sure to book your rooms early!

    Keep an eye on the Convention Page as more information about speakers, the agenda, and additional activities is coming soon.

  • 04 Apr 2017 12:57 PM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    National Preneed Leaders Unite To Champion Funeral Service.

    PORTLAND, Ore. – Precoa (the Preneed Company of America) and The Outlook Group have announced a landmark agreement, coming together to better share the healing power of funeral service with more families nationwide. Precoa’s acquisition of The Outlook Group will unite two of the nation’s leading preneed companies under one name. Both were among the three recently named Preferred Providers for preneed by Selected Independent Funeral Homes.

    “We have an opportunity to take what Outlook Group has done really well, what Precoa has done really well, and create something better than the individual parts,” Outlook Group CEO & President Tyler Anderson said. “In the long run, this is going to provide greater opportunity for the people within Outlook Group and Precoa, greater resources for our advanced planners, greater service to our funeral homes, and a better experience for the families they serve.”

    Anderson said cultural synergy was a key factor in his decision to bring the thriving companies together.

    “What I found in meeting the people of Precoa was a company culture that leads with love, values kindness, values craftsmanship, and is always progressing,” he said. “Outlook Group is proud to be joining Precoa. Ultimately, we are all one family. We are a Precoa family.”

    Precoa President Michael Hornibrook said as he learned more about Outlook Group and its leadership, it became clear how their family history of at-need service benefitted their preneed work.

    “The first thing that caught my attention was their focus on the families,” Hornibrook said. “They really cared about making sure the family understood the importance of funeral service. That was their priority. They weren’t driven by a commission. They had a higher purpose.”

    Precoa’s formal acquisition of The Outlook Group will be finalized in the late spring of 2017. The Franklin, Ohio-based company will continue to serve its 108 funeral home partners, as well as agents and families with the additional support of Precoa’s Portland, Ore. headquarters and integrated ProActive Preneed® system.

    Precoa’s exclusive, proprietary insurance product will continue to be backed by NGL's 100+ years of financial strength and stability. The longstanding relationship with the Madison, Wisc.-based mutual company enters its seventh year this spring.

    Meanwhile, Outlook Group’s exclusive relationship with Physicians Mutual Insurance Company will transfer fully to Precoa, which becomes the sole marketing partner for Physician Mutual’s preneed insurance division. In business for more than 110 years, Omaha, Neb.-based Physicians Mutual has been funding preneed insurance policies since 2012.

     

    “Looking to the future, the question is how are we going to impact more families and the preneed profession as a whole,” Hornibrook said. “For us, it goes beyond more preneed policies. It’s about those families we serve and the way we do it. It’s educating them about why funeral service is so important.”

    About Precoa:

    Precoa (the Preneed Company of America) is a national leader in preneed sales and marketing, committed to enriching life through meaningful connection. Precoa partners with leading funeral homes, providing the best resources in preneed with its fully-integrated ProActive Preneed® system to help families across America begin healing following the loss of a loved one. Founded in 2004 by Bret Davis and Mark Hornibrook, Precoa has been headquartered in Portland, Ore. since its inception and employs over 260 employees, plus a network of more than 600 independent preneed agents, nationwide.

    About The Outlook Group:

    Founded in 1985 by funeral home owner Charles Anderson, The Outlook Group has been headquartered in Franklin, Ohio since its inception and partners with over 100 funeral homes in the Midwest, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic. The Outlook Group leadership have long leveraged their at-need service experience to successfully provide a broad range of preneed, training, and lead generation services to fellow funeral home owners. The company has recorded 32 years of improved preneed sales and training performance in the industry — a record regarded as unmatched in the profession.


  • 30 Mar 2017 10:25 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    March 30, 2017

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a new online Daily Burial Schedule (DBS) for all VA national cemeteries, which will allow families and loved ones to retrieve time and location information for those being interred. “We pride ourselves on continuously improving customer satisfaction and meeting the wishes of Veterans and their loved ones,” said interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters. “We want manageable information for anyone wishing to pay their respects.

    The new feature is available to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer. Families may also opt out of using this service. Schedules of interments are posted online and updated hourly at: www.cem.va.gov/dailyburialschedule. The public can search by national cemetery or last name. DBS will give the scheduled committal service date and time, location of the cemetery and funeral home providing services. The location of the committal shelter will be provided at the cemetery. In addition, users may also navigate to the specific VA national cemetery website for directions and further information. 

    The VA operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than four million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA's national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve and maintain 105 Veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service. In 2016, VA honored more than 345,000 Veterans and their loved ones with memorial benefits in national, state, tribal and private cemeteries.


  • 13 Feb 2017 10:52 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Funeral Service Foundation Funds Four Student Arranger Training Seminars in 2017

    Brookfield, Wis. – After a successful launch of its Arranger Training program in 2016, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is expanding the program by introducing a student version of the training program specifically designed to equip aspiring funeral service professionals with the skills needed to help families plan meaningful life tribute events. To celebrate the program’s debut, the Funeral Service Foundation is fully funding four NFDA Student Arranger Training workshops in 2017.

    The NFDA Student Arranger Training Program is a four-hour digest version of the eight-hour professional workshop. Lacy Robinson, CFSP, NFDA director of member development, who developed and presents Arranger Training workshops, will cover topics ranging from customer service skills to overcoming objections. Each student receives a workbook that contains individual assignments, suggested dialogue and valuable resources for planning memorable life tribute events.

    “The Student Arranger Training Program will not only enhance students’ communication skills with client families but prepare them for the challenges they may encounter in the real world of funeral service,” said Robinson. “I am thrilled to share this exceptional program with students and am confident they will find tremendous value in the content presented.”

    To help launch the NFDA Student Arranger Training Program, the Funeral Service Foundation generously agreed to underwrite the costs of hosting the program for four ABFSE-accredited institutions as part of its new Foundation ’45 Awards. The awards are designed to transform the careers of funeral service professionals through scholarships, awards, resources and mission-focused outreach.

    Twenty-three schools entered for a chance to host the complimentary Arranger Training Program. NFDA and Foundation leadership drew the winners: Amarillo College of Mortuary Science, Amarillo, Texas; Mid-America College of Funeral Service, Jeffersonville, In.; St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo.; and St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, Fla.

    “The Foundation is honored to offer an expanded slate of scholarships and awards to funeral service students and professionals,” said Stephanie Kann, scholarship sub-committee chair and vice president of Worsham College in Wheeling, Ill.. “Access to solid education and resources is central to our mission, and offering the Arranger Training Program to students through the Foundation ’45 Awards is a natural fit.”

    Any American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE)-accredited school may host the NFDA Student Arranger Training Program; the cost is $80 per student, with no additional costs to the school.

    ABFSE-accredited schools that are interested in bringing the NFDA Student Arranger Training Program to their school should contact Robinson at 800-228-6332 or lrobinson@nfda.org.

    Additional information about the Arranger Training Program for funeral professionals is available on the NFDA website, www.nfda.org/arrangertraining, and additional information about the Foundation ’45 Awards is available on the Foundation’s website: http://www.funeralservicefoundation.org/your-gift-at-work/foundation-45-awards/.

    About the Funeral Service Foundation – FuneralServiceFoundation.org

    Since 1945, the Funeral Service Foundation has served as the profession’s philanthropic voice. As the charitable arm of the National Funeral Directors Association since 1997, the Foundation receives operational support from NFDA and donors across the profession to help advance its mission support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and the communities it serves.

    About NFDA – www.nfda.org

    NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 18,500 individual members who represent nearly 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. 


  • 09 Feb 2017 10:12 AM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Contact: Sally L. Bélanger, CFSP, MBIE For Immediate Release

    207-406-2703 February 7, 2017

    The Dodge Company Welcomes Monty Birge to Its Team of Sales Representatives

    Billerica, MA – The Dodge Company is pleased to announce the addition of Monty Birge to its team of sales representatives effective immediately. If Monty’s time spent in Billerica in January is any indication, he is certain to provide excellent service to the funeral service professionals in his territory which covers Washington State, Alaska, Northern Idaho and Western Montana.

    Monty has taken over the territory previously served by Bill Martin who is now enjoying retirement. Initially licensed as a funeral service practitioner in Washington in 2014, graduating Pima Medical Institute, Seattle, Washington, with an Associate in Arts Degree in Mortuary Science, Monty is no stranger to funeral service having spent many years in Western Washington working with several local funeral homes, most notably Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park and Crematory where he spent twelve years.

    Monty is the proud dad of two adult daughters, Nikki and Mikalah. When not working, he enjoys golf, working out at the gym and going on mini vacations.

    Tim Collison, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said “Monty came highly recommended by Bill Martin, and his training and orientation in Billerica were very enjoyable and productive.” Tim is certain Monty’s enthusiasm and expertise will serve him well and provide his customers with the service and resources they have come to expect from Dodge.


  • 30 Dec 2016 2:54 PM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Membership Dues for 2017 have been sent out!  We hope to see everyone back and bring in some new faces as well as we move into 2017.

    We request that dues be returned to our office no later than Jan 31, 2017.

  • 22 Dec 2016 2:53 PM | Wilson Ilgenfritz (Administrator)

    Washington, D.C., Update: December 22, 2016

    December 22, 2016

    Tax Reform is a major agenda priority for 2017. NFDA expects non-stop action during the coming year and, perhaps, beyond.  

    Although no details are available yet, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and other top Republicans will launch a new drive to repeal the estate tax in 2017; NFDA will closely monitor this issue in the coming months. Thune, a senior Finance Committee member, has voiced confidence that there will be consensus support for his proposal to repeal the estate tax as part of a broad tax overhaul in the 115th Congress.

    In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled his agenda by stating the American public needs "Relief from Obamacare—this law is hurting families and it’s only going to get worse. Relief from this broken tax code that is costing us jobs, competitiveness, and growth. Relief from overreach and needless regulations that are crushing livelihoods and industries across this country.”

    A major part of Ryan’s agenda was unveiled in his “A Better Way” plan. The focus of this plan is to create make the tax code simpler, fairer, and flatter. Two vital components of this new tax plan include:

    • The elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which requires families and individuals to compute both their regular income tax and their AMT and then pay the greater of the two; in effect, the AMT is a second tax system.
    • The elimination of the estate tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax, so that the death of a family member or loved one no longer will be a taxable event. Ryan’s plan will also consolidate the system down to three tax brackets and lower the top individual income tax rate to 33 percent.

    Senate Republicans have been cautious in their reactions to Ryan’s plan. Finance Committee Chairman Hatch (R-UT) has not released his long awaited Corporate Integration proposal. Democrats in the House and Senate have not released a tax reform proposal of their own since then-Chairman Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) bill from 2007 and then-Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) tax reform papers from 2014. Early indications from Senate Republican tax writers indicate emphatically their intent to develop their own bipartisan proposal on tax reform.

    The newest key player on tax reform in Congress is Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the new ranking member on the Ways & Means Committee. Neal is well-liked and respected on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol. He represents a markedly different leader for Democrats in the House; however, his impact will be significantly affected by two things: (1) how much appetite for bipartisanship there is from House Republicans; and (2) how much leeway he has with House Democrats. Another new Democratic player to watch is Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) who will be the ranking member of the Tax Policy Subcommittee in the 115th Congress.

    Recently, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) touched on tax reform, healthcare reform and debt limit. On timing for tax reform, Brady expects a lot of the work to be done in the next month and that Ways & Means would be ready to move forward with President Trump. While there appears to be optimism about addressing tax reform and passing legislation to help small business owners, like funeral homes, it is unlikely that it will be accomplished quickly.

    NFDA’s Advocacy team will continue to work with members of Congress to support meaningful tax reform that will benefit funeral service and small business owners. We will keep you appraised as things develop in both the House and Senate. We welcome you to attend the NFDA Advocacy Summit, April 26-28 in Washington, D.C., because with a new president and a new Congress, it will be a very important year to have your voice heard on the Hill.


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