2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
November 27, 2019 - Introduced by Senator Larson, cosponsored by
Representatives Brostoff, Skowronski, Spreitzer, Emerson, Sinicki,
Vruwink, Anderson, Bowen and C. Taylor. Referred to Committee on
Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
1An Act to create
16.853 of the statutes; relating to: installation of hearing loop
2technology in certain new and renovated state buildings and granting
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under this bill, each space that is constructed or renovated in a building that
is owned, leased, or occupied by the state must be equipped with a hearing loop
system if the space is intended to be used for gatherings of 15 or more people and
audible communications are integral to a use of the space. The bill defines a “hearing
loop system” as an assistive listening technology that consists of a physical loop
system that generates a magnetic field in the looped area and transmits signals
directly to telecoils in hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other listening devices.
Under the bill, the Department of Administration may approve an exemption
from the bill's requirement to install a hearing loop system under certain
circumstances. DOA must do all of the following with respect to approved
1. Create a notice and comment process for each approved exemption.
2. Consider available alternative measures in lieu of installation of a
permanent hearing loop system.
3. Submit an annual report to the legislature and the Department of Health
Services describing in detail each approved exemption, the reasons for the
exemption, and the consideration and approval of alternative measures.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
16.853 of the statutes is created to read:
216.853 Installation of hearing loop technology. (1)
In this section:
(a) “Hearing loop system” means an assistive listening technology that consists 4
of a physical loop system that generates a magnetic field in the looped area and 5
transmits signals directly to telecoils in hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other 6
(b) “Public gathering space” means a space that is intended to be used for 8
gatherings of 15 or more people if audible communications are integral to a use of the 9
The department shall ensure that each constructed or renovated public 11
gathering space in a building that is owned, leased, or occupied by the state is 12
equipped with a hearing loop system.
(a) The department, after consulting with the department of health 14
services, may exempt the construction or renovation of a public gathering space from 15
the requirement to install a hearing loop system under sub. (2) if the department 16
determines that any of the following applies:
1. Installation of a hearing loop system conflicts with other legal requirements.
2. Installation of a hearing loop system conflicts with other project 19
3. The cost to install a hearing loop system is prohibitive.
(b) The department shall promulgate rules establishing a process for public 2
notice and comment on each decision to approve an exemption under par. (a), 3
including any approval of an alternative measure under par. (c). The department 4
shall publish the notice in such a manner as to maximize notification to the 5
hard-of-hearing community and other interested persons. The department shall 6
consider all public comments made regarding the exemption before implementing 7
(c) Before the department approves an exemption under par. (a), the 9
department shall consider available alternative measures in lieu of installation of a 10
permanent hearing loop system, including providing portable hearing loops or 11
portable FM systems with neckloops.
(d) The department shall submit annual reports to the appropriate standing 13
committees of the legislature under s. 13.172 (3) and to the department of health 14
services that describe in detail each exemption approved by the department under 15
par. (a) in the previous quarter, including the reasons for the exemption and a 16
description of each alternative measure considered or approved under par. (c).
(1) This act first applies to the construction or renovation of a public gathering 19
space that has not completed the planning and design phase on the effective date of 20
this subsection, as determined by the secretary of administration. However, the 21
legislature encourages the secretary of administration to ensure compliance with the 22
provisions of this act for projects that have completed the planning and design phase 23
on the effective date of this subsection.