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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Bill would lengthen time between inspections

  • A bill prefiled by a local state senator aims to lengthen the time between inspections of lodging establishments.
    16th District Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) filed the legislation, Senate Bill 590, on Dec. 3, according to the Missouri Senate website.
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  • A bill prefiled by a local state senator aims to lengthen the time between inspections of lodging establishments.
    16th District Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) filed the legislation, Senate Bill 590, on Dec. 3, according to the Missouri Senate website.
    Currently, lodging establishments are subject to inspections by the Department of Health and Senior Services or a local authority, such as a county health department, as often as necessary, but at least once a year.
    According to an unofficial bill summary, "this act provides that lodging establishments shall be inspected no more than once every two years, unless a complaint is filed with the department requiring additional inspections."
    The piece of legislation also would require the state health department to provide every lodging establishment with a copy of the inspection report used during inspections.
    A message left for Brown was not returned by press time Monday.
    Brown told the Camdenton Lake Sun that the bill was inspired by a lake area resort owner who has issues with how the inspections are currently being done.
    Phelps County Health Department Administrator Jodi Waltman told the Daily News that her concern, if this bill were to pass, is not so much with large franchises, but with the smaller, individual-owned hotels and motels.
    "When you look at these especially small places, the buildings are old and in a privately owned nonfranchized lodging, you can go from 'passing' to unsafe conditions within a year," Waltman said.
    According to the health department, around 21 inspections are performed at lodging establishments in Phelps County each year.
    Waltman also said that if the bill were to pass, changes would also be needed for lodging establishments' annual business licenses.
    "The license is renewed based on passing inspection, so they (legislators) would also have to change the license process," she said.
    Waltman said while performing inspections less often would decrease the department's workload, neither her department nor the state health department receives funds from the licenses.
    "It's not to my advantage," she said, noting that the license fees go to the state's general revenue fund.
    In Brown's interview with the Lake Sun, he said that changing how often inspections are done could save the state money but indicated that money was not the driving force in this issue.
    "There needs to be a rule change," Brown told the Lake Sun. "Streamline the process of licensing or forget it."
    Brown added that the text of the bill could easily change before anything is passed. He hopes this is a catalyst to an open conversation with health departments.
    "We are just trying to get the discussion started. Is this an issue? Is this a problem? Do we need more inspectors?" Brown asked.
    Page 2 of 2 - Waltman said when inspections are performed at lodges, health is not the only thing inspectors are looking for; safety issues such as whether structures meet municipal building codes are reviewed. The county has no local lodging ordinances.
    Waltman said more than one inspector visits an establishment at the time of inspection to make the process more efficient.
    She also said that inspectors visit lodging establishments at unannounced times but also go at appropriate times, meaning that in order to inspect a pool, inspectors go when the pool is open, not in January.

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