Bill to help cemetery visitors in Berks moves to House

'This bill is about righting a moral wrong'

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Berks County lawmaker's bill to protect the rights of cemetery visitors in Berks County and across Pennsylvania is moving to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

The House's Local Government Committee on Wednesday approved the legislation introduced by state Rep. Mark GIllen, a Republican who represents parts of Berks and Lancaster counties.

Gillen introduced House Bill 1019 after the new owners of Rock Cemetery in Caernarvon Township began prohibiting people from visiting the graves of their family members. The owners posted "private property " and "no trespassing" signs before filing a lawsuit against the cemetery visitors.

"This bill is about righting a moral wrong," Gillen said. "These families deserve access to the final resting places of their loved ones, and my bill would provide it."

The bill would ensure reasonable access for cemetery visitors. If cemetery owners fail to comply, they could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor and face a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500, Gillen said.

People who have been denied access to Rock Cemetery include the mother of a 3-year-old boy who died of brain cancer in 1980 and the daughter of a World War II and Korean War veteran who earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Gillen said.

"It appears there's no existing law on the books because nearly all cemetery owners traditionally have treated grieving widows and families with empathy and compassion," Gillen said. "I certainly support private property rights, but I also believe in treating others with dignity, respect and kindness."

An attorney for the cemetery owners has said the bill, if it becomes law, will impact thousands of Pennsylvania landowners by effectively turning their private property into public land.

DISCLAIMER FOR COMMENTS: The views expressed by public comments are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the TERMS OF USE  and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Your comments may be used on air. Be polite. Inappropriate posts or posts containing offsite links may be removed by the moderator.

This Week's Circulars



Berks Area News

Latest From The Newsroom