Legislation that would allow Missouri officials to reject a daycare facility’s license application if it’s too close to sex offenders has the backing of a Sedalia nursing home with 17 registered sex offenders.

State Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Four Seasons Living Center lobbyist Jack Dalton testified Monday in Jefferson City that a daycare facility wants to open right next to his company’s west-central Missouri facility. Dalton says 236 residents live at the nursing home.

“Our response was ‘you got to be kidding me.’ That’s where you want to put children that you’re charged with taking care of?” Dalton says.

He testifies the proposed daycare would be across the sidewalk from the Sedalia nursing home.

Dalton testified Monday for legislation sponsored by State Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie, which would give the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) authority to deny an application for a daycare license if it would be located within 1,000 feet of a location where registered sex offenders reside or receive treatment.

Dalton says the proposed daycare would be 12 feet from his facility, which is known as Four Seasons Nursing Care. Dalton testified 17 sex offenders live there, and that “some of them may be more aggressive.”

“And you’re going to build a swing set and a playground next door to this,” says Dalton. “And we’re not talking about across the street, we’re talking about across the sidewalk.”

Mr. Dalton says Hicks’ bill, which is House Bill 826, is about protecting children. He also says the 17 sex offenders have the right to live at Four Seasons.

While the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee learned that the state has denied the daycare facility’s application, Representative Hicks wants to give DHSS clear statutory authority.

The bill has the support of “Kids Win Missouri”, a coalition dedicated to improving the well-being of children. “Kids Win Missouri” policy director Craig Stevenson testifies the proposal would be another tool in DHSS’ toolbox.

“Obviously they look at the inside of a child care facility, but should have the authority to look at the immediate surroundings of that facility around the outside,” Stevenson says.

No one testified against the bill at the hearing.

State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, has filed the Senate version of the bill. It has been approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

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