Tomlinson Conflict of Interest Persists

In early January, we noted the conflict of interest between Senator Tomlinson’s role in the legislature and professional life as a funeral director:

"These two careers shouldn’t interfere with each other, but Sen. Tomlinson’s role as chairman of the Senate of Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee is putting his two jobs in conflict, raising profound ethical questions that should concern Pennsylvania taxpayers.

"Despite no documented consumer complaints, his committee and the Senate have approved SB 874, pushed by Sen. Tomlinson and his fellow funeral directors to stop legitimate competition with cemeteries in the area of pre-need sales. The name of the committee is ironic since the legislation would create less competition and higher prices for families burying loved ones.

"While he isn’t the prime sponsor of SB 874, Capitol insiders refer to it as ‘Tommy’s bill.’ Many are rightly calling this bill a product of a ‘turf war’ between southeastern Pennsylvania funeral homes and a company called StoneMor."

Rather than backing off of the legislation that would benefit him personally, Senator Tomlinson has not only doubled down he is now using his position as Chairman in an attempt to extort the House:

"He has warned lawmakers he will not run certain bills out of his committee until his counterparts in the House Consumer Affairs Committee pass the cemetery bill, a source said. As a result, two water companies, which have no connection to the funeral industry, are lobbying the House to approve the cemetery bill so their bills, already approved by the House, get a fair shake in the Senate, that source said…Rep. Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery, chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, declined to comment, saying he did not want the situation to get worse for the Legislature." (Emphasis added)

Sen. Tomlinson denies that he is using his position to benefit his family business. Despite statements from the Federal Trade Commission indicating that the changes are unnecessary and would result in higher prices, Tomlinson insists that he wants to change the law for the benefit of consumers.

We will keep you informed about the legislation if there is any movement, or if
Tomlinson can explain how higher prices and reduced competition are good for you.