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Carbon monoxide laws in MI, other states present many loopholes

NILES, Mich. -

The web story for the first video above:

The Quality Inn in Niles did not have a carbon monoxide detector in its pool area because it was not legally required to.

“I’m angry when I think about all the opposition I faced when I was putting this thing through because I could’ve prevented this, had they adopted the original legislation as I had proposed it,” said Michigan State Senator Steve Bieda, who represents the 9th District.

In a phone interview Monday, Bieda said he felt Bryan Douglas Watts would likely be alive today if legislation he introduced 10 years ago had passed in its original form.

It was May 2007 when then-Michigan State Representative Bieda, a Democrat, introduced House Bill 4730.

Its ultimate goal? Require that ‘the owner or operator of a hotel structure shall install 1 or more carbon monoxide detectors in each room of that building.’

“One of the arguments that the hotels were using in opposition to it is it would be very, very expensive to retrofit hotel rooms and motel rooms to accommodate these carbon monoxide detectors,” said Bieda.

The bill managed to pass the State House, which was run by Democrats that year.

But it was changed before it was passed by the State Senate – then run by Republicans.

Instead of requiring all Michigan hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors, the new version stated ‘only buildings and structures newly constructed on or after…December 1, 2009’ would be required to have a detector.

Property records show the Quality Inn in Niles was built well before December 2009, meaning it was grandfathered into not legally needing carbon monoxide detectors.

The bill was signed into law in December 2008, right as Bieda reached his term limit as a state rep.

He is now a state senator and said Saturday’s tragedy in Niles will only motivate him more to update the legislation he first introduced 10 years ago.

“I don’t want to ever hear anybody tell me again that, ‘Oh, regulations are going to cost too much,’ when we could’ve saved some lives in this situation,” said Bieda.

The web story for the second video above:

What states require hotels, homes and businesses to have carbon monoxide detectors?

The laws are very particular in each state you’re in.

“We’ll be sending out an alert to all of our members and to the industry reminding them how critical it is that they have this type of safety equipment in place and that it be monitored and maintained regularly,” said Deanna Richeson, the president of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.

Saturday’s deadly carbon monoxide incident at the Quality Inn in Niles has reignited a conversation about hotel safety.

“There are portable carbon monoxide detectors you can buy in the store,” said Michigan State Senator Steve Bieda, who represents the 9th District. “And you can take those in your suitcase; you can put them in a hotel room. They’re portable. And I think it’s maybe something that people might want to consider too. But this is a tragedy that could’ve been prevented. I really think the legislature – I would like them to take a look at this again.”

As mentioned in the story above, Bieda introduced Michigan’s first carbon monoxide law back in 2007.

The amended version of his bill that was eventually signed into law requires only new hotels built after 2009 to have carbon monoxide detectors.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 states require homes to have carbon monoxide detectors.

And 12 states require hotels and motels to have them.

In Indiana, there is currently no law requiring detectors anywhere.

Richeson – who’s originally from Niles – said Saturday’s tragedy is a wakeup call.

“The hotel industry needs to be mindful of this, definitely,” she said. “Parents and travelers also, they should be able to expect that these standards are in place.”

Richeson said her organization was opposed to Bieda’s original bill back in 2007 – long before she was president – because it was felt it was unnecessary to require every hotel room in the state to have a detector, since most hotel rooms are powered solely by electricity. 

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