It’s a topic Brown, the namesake of K.L. Brown Funeral Home in Jacksonville, knows well. But it’s not always easy to sell those bills to others in the Legislature. Earlier this month, a House committee failed to approve a Brown-sponsored bill that would regulate “pre-need” funeral packages — packages that funeral homes sell to customers years before their death, and sometimes fail to deliver on when the time comes. It was the second year Brown’s bill got shot down.
“I was real disappointed,” Brown said. “It was disappointing to work hard all year and for the chairman to not let the committee vote.”
If passed, the bill would exempt municipal and church cemeteries. Brown plans to pursue the pre-need bill again next year with little change.
“I’ve always heard the third time's the charm,” Brown said. “We tried to make the bill fair for everybody. I get the feeling that some of our cemetery folks don’t want to be regulated.”
Brown also has two local bills related to Jacksonville’s civil service board. The bill would amend the state code to declare any member of the board’s office to be considered vacant and to be filled if the member fails to attend three consecutive meetings.
House Bill 446 would allow any professional librarian employed by the city to be eligible for the civil service board. Both bills passed in the House and are in the Senate. They are expected to receive a vote Monday, the last day of session.
Brown is perhaps best known around the state as a rare Republican supporter of legalizing medical marijuana. Inspired by the struggle of a close relative who used the drug when suffering a terminal illness, Brown in past sessions has introduced bills to allow medical use of pot. This year, he spoke in favor of a similar bill by a Birmingham representative, but didn’t introduce one himself.
Medical marijuana legislation has never made it out of committee in either house, but back in Brown’s district, the idea seems to have some support.
Piedmont resident Ed Hanson said he supports it, but he thinks there will need to be strict regulations
"My daughter has stage four cancer. If it (medical marijuana) would help her, then I don't see why she can't have it," Hanson said.
Rena Comisac, owner of the Quality Shoppe in Jacksonville, said she knows Brown has a personal connection with this issue.
“I need to be more informed before I lean one way or the other,” Comisac said. “If it were passed, it needs to be passed with caution.”
Brown said he’ll work on the medical marijuana issue again in the next session.
“We’re going to set up a panel next year with consumers, medical experts, law enforcement and legislators to see if anyone has any common ground,” Brown said. “Then we can see where we can work from.”