Urban Affairs

Bed-and-breakfast regulation changes proposed

State law regulating bed-and-breakfast establishments in Nebraska would be updated under a bill considered March 14 by the Urban Affairs Committee.

Sen. Danielle Conrad
Sen. Danielle Conrad

LB546, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, would redefine a bed-and-breakfast establishment to include a single-family residence that provides breakfast and sleeping accommodations to no more than 20 guests, or ten guest rooms, at one time.

Under current state law, a bed-and-breakfast wishing to serve hot food must install a fire sprinkler system in each room of their establishment. LB546 would limit that requirement to rooms that contain only one exit. The bill also would outline appropriate safe food handling practices.

Conrad said the bill would be an important step to help small businesses expand the services they are able to offer visitors of Nebraska.

“[The bill] provides the right balance for consumer safety and a vibrant small business and tourism industry,” she said.

Todd Knobel, owner of the historic Spalding House, testified in support of the proposal. After completing renovations to the property, Knobel said, he was informed by regulatory authorities that he would not be able to serve hot meals without sprinklers in every room.

“The requirement to install a sprinkler system … was simply too burdensome to overcome,” Knobel said. “The cost to install such a system would be prohibitive for small businesses like a bed-and-breakfast — with an estimated installation cost in the high tens of thousands of dollars.”

State Fire Marshal Scott Cordes testified in opposition to LB546. He said Nebraska fire regulations generally conform to fire code standards established by the National Fire Protection Association, a nationally recognized leader in fire safety. The NFPA found that sprinklers reduce the rate of civilian fire deaths by 87 percent, fire related injuries by 27 percent and the risk of property loss by 70 percent, he said.

“The potential safety benefits outweigh the costs associated with installing fire sprinkler systems in a bed-and-breakfast,” Cordes said. “Public safety is a paramount concern and the state should maintain the standards set forth in NFPA code requirements.”

The committee took no immediate action on LB546.

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