Governor Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed legislation that would have given residential care centers two more years to install sprinkler systems.
In 2006, 10 residents were killed in a fire at a group home in Anderson that did not have a sprinkler system.
The following year, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill mandating sprinkler systems for all residential care homes by the end of 2012. The bill vetoed by Governor Nixon would have extended the deadline till the end of 2014.
Nixon says the protection of elderly and disabled residents is too important to push back the deadline.
"The loss of life from the Anderson Guest House fire led to important changes to protect the most vulnerable in our society," Nixon said in a statement. "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."
State Senator Bill Stouffer (R, Napton), who sponsored the deadline extension, says the veto could force family-owned group homes to close. He issued the following statement:
“I am truly saddened by the governor’s decision today to veto Senate Bill 118. If protecting seniors is really a top priority, the state should have fulfilled its obligation by funding the program as promised. Instead, we are closing family-owned facilities taking care of lower income seniors to profit large, hospital-style nursing homes. This could prove to be a devastating economic blow to caring folks who provide a much-needed service throughout the state.”