A new state senate bill sponsored by Senator Dan Brown is under the microscope of one local health department. Law currently mandates that lodging establishments in the state of Missouri are required to be inspected by health departments once a year. In Senate Bill 590, that inspection would be allowed only once every two years, except when a complaint is filed with the department requiring an additional on-site inspection.
The bill also adds that the health department shall provide every lodging establishment with a copy of the lodging inspection report used during the inspection every two years.
With Lake of the Ozarks home to many lodging establishments, this bill has gained attention by lake-area residents.
Bryant Burton, Camden County Health Department Director, questions the bill and the motivation behind it.
"There has to be something — some motivation but I can not figure it out," Burton said. "I want to reserve judgement on it until I hear what he [Brown] has to say."
Burton fears that if the bill passes, it could affect the lake area's economy and the public's overall safety.
"I think the passage of this bill would put the public safety in jeopardy in some situations," Burton said. "No one wants to go to the lake if it's not inspected."
Brown told the Lake Sun that the bill was inspired by a lake area resort owner who has issues with how the inspections are currently being done. Brown said that the particular owner said that his resort was inspected and licensed but claimed that other resorts were not.
"There needs to be a rule change," Brown said. "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.
According to Brown, changing how often inspections are done could save the state money but indicated that money was not the driving force in this issue.
Since the lake is home to many large resorts with more than 200 rooms, Burton also fears that some rooms and in those resorts could go years without being inspected under the new bill. Per the law at resorts with more than 200 rooms, a minimum of 30 rooms must be inspected. Due to the size of the resorts, not all rooms can be inspected at once.
When inspecting an establishment, departments check for everything from the condition of the bed linens, condition of smoke detectors, if any wires are exposed to how well emergency lights work. Guest rooms, house keeping storerooms, mechanical rooms, laundry rooms, common areas, pools, water and wastewater are all checked thoroughly.
Page 2 of 2 - The Camden County Health Department has planned a meeting with Brown two times in the last week but had to reschedule the meetings due to weather and Brown's schedule. They are set to meet in Jefferson City on Jan. 7, 2014.
The Lake Sun attempted to reach out to the resort owner that Brown mentioned but the owner is out of the country until the end of the month.