The state law requiring state inspection of hotels and motels every other year is likely to be repealed soon.

State officials haven’t been doing inspetions that frequently and the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing has proposed that hotel inspections be triggered by customer complaints. Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have sent the governor a bill to accomplish that goal. Senator Carrie Koelker, a Republican from Dyersville, said state inspections of hotels and motels are prioritized according to the kind of complaints.

“They also prioritize food inspections over hotels in general because there’s a greater potential for public harm, so customer complaints are suffient and more frequent,” Koelker said. “We need to have hotels step up and take responsibility for their reputation, their bed bug problems, their own communities.”

Democrats opposed the move and many who spoke during debate mentioned bed bug problems. Senator Tony Bisignano of Des Moines said the bill sends the wrong signal o visitors.

“When people come to this state to spend the night — come for the basketball tournaments, travel to do work, your relatives visit from out of town — you’d like to at least be able to say: ‘Hey, we keep an eye on our hotels. It should be good,'” Bisignano said.

Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said he got “the willies” when he checked into a southeast Iowa hotel with dirty sheets and a filthy bathroom.

“We want to sell Iowa as a great place to live, visit and enjoy yourself and so this bill just smacks against all that,” Dotzler said. “I know that our inspectors are overworked. Let’s add some inspectors.”

Koelker, the bill’s floor manager, said the hotel Dotzler described was “alarming,” but Koelker said most hotels are part of chains that have higher standards than state law.

“We all know I love tourism, I repreent tourism and I invite people to Iowa and so I obviously would not bring a bill to us tht would damage our reputation,” said Koelker, who is executive director of the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association.

The Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing has authority to inspect 580 hotels in the state, with 22 people on staff to inspect hotels as well as food processing plants, food establishments and home-based food businesses.

Radio Iowa