Gov. Nixon vetoes bill affecting delay of sprinkler systems in care homes

SPRINGFIELD, MO (KFVS) - Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have delayed by 2 years a requirement for residential care and assisted living facilities in Missouri to install sprinkler systems.

The Governor said that the protection of the elderly and individuals with disabilities who reside in those facilities was too important to push back, particularly since the original law requiring the sprinkler systems by the end of 2012 has been in place for four years already.

A deadly group home fire in 2006 led to the passage of a bill in 2007 requiring long-term care facilities to install such systems by the end of 2012. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 118, which would have delayed that requirement until the Dec. 31, 2014.

"The loss of life from the Anderson Guest House fire led to important changes to protect the most vulnerable in our society," Gov. Nixon said. "The law provided these facilities with more than five years to install the basic measures that would save lives. Yet here we are, several years later, with only incremental progress made toward having sprinkler systems in every group home. Any further delay puts lives unnecessarily at risk, and that is unacceptable."

Under federal law, the majority of intermediate and skilled nursing facilities will be required to have sprinkler systems by Aug. 2013 and would have been unaffected by the bill.

Most skilled nursing facilities (475 out of 499) and intermediate care facilities (27 out of 31) already have compliant systems.

Residential care and assisted living facilities in Mo. are not under a federal deadline.

Residential care (78 out of 426) and assisted living facilities (18 out of 180) would not have the type of sprinkler systems required by the Anderson Guest House legislation passed in 2007.

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