MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A Lowcountry lawmaker wants hotels and landlords to face fines or jail time for not disclosing bed bugs.
Myrtle Beach is known as a bed bug epicenter.
Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston County, is pushing a bill that will send hotel owners and landlords to jail if they do not inform people of past and current bed bug infestations.
The bill states whoever fails to comply will be found guilty of a misdemeanor. If convicted, the accused could face up to 60 days in jail time or be fined up to $300.
Gilliard said the biggest battle has been trying to convince other lawmakers why this bill needs to be passed statewide.
“We live in these days or times where we’re dealing with new diseases such as viruses and all sorts and knowing that bed bugs carry all sorts of diseases, this should be important to everybody,” Gilliard said.
Gilliard said other lawmakers have not taken the situation seriously because they have not experienced bed bug infestations in their areas. He said he receives numerous calls a year regarding bed bugs in hotels, public shelters, and apartment buildings.
“We pay good money for these hotels, there is no reason why a state that brings in $20 million a year from tourism has a bed bug infestation,” Gilliard said.
South Carolina currently has no bed bug laws about the pests in hotels. In Minnesota, hotels and motels must kill bed bugs immediately when they find them. The same law applies to assisted living and other senior facilities for disabled people. Minnesota is the only state that has these bed bug laws.
Other states have different types of rules. In Alabama, guest rooms are required to be immediately closed from when an infestation is discovered to when the problem is under control.
“Bed bug laws would not damage the hospitality industry, it would only make it healthier for customers and residents,” Gilliard said.