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Governor signs web privacy, DNA collection, medical apology bills

Walker signs 62 bills into law Tuesday

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker signed 62 bills into law Tuesday, with a ceremonial bill signing of an Assembly bill that creates an emergency heating assistance loan guarantee program.

Governor signs DNA collection bill

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill scaling back when police can seize DNA samples under a law to take effect next year.

Under current state law only convicted felons and sex offenders have to give up their DNA. A new law taking effect next year requires police to take DNA from anyone arrested for a felony and adults convicted of a misdemeanor.

The bill Walker signed Tuesday scales that back, allowing police to take DNA upon arrest only if the person has been arrested for a violent felony such as rape or assault.

The measure also specifies the samples would go to the state crime lab rather than allowing local police to hold them. The lab couldn't analyze the DNA until there's been a finding of probable cause.

Walker signs bipartisan web privacy bill

Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bipartisan measure that prohibits bosses from asking workers or job applicants for access to their social media accounts.

Walker signed the bill privately on Tuesday.

The push to pass such laws is gaining momentum nationally as employers ask for workers' user names and passwords for their personal accounts. Some employers say they need such access to protect proprietary information or trade secrets. Others contend it's an invasion of privacy.

The measure found broad bipartisan support in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Wisconsin governor OKs felon-harboring bill

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that will create steep fines and prison time for a felon's relatives if they help him or her evade police.

Current Wisconsin law prohibits a person from aiding or harboring a felon. But the law doesn't apply to the felon's spouse, parents, grandparents, children, grandchild and siblings.

The bill extends that prohibition to all those family members. If they help the felon they could face fines of up to $20,000 and 10 years in prison depending on the severity of the felon's crimes.

Both the Assembly and Senate passed the bill on voice votes earlier this spring. Walker signed the measure in a private ceremony Tuesday.

Walker signs bill exempting medical apologies

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would allow doctors and other health care providers to apologize to patients without worrying about whether the statements could be used against them in court.

Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir announced the bill signing on Tuesday. Walker signed the bill, and a host of other measures, in private.

The new law, pushed by Republicans, makes apologies, condolences or expressions of sympathy inadmissible in civil proceedings and in administrative hearings concerning the health care provider's actions.

Supporters, including Vukmir, argue the new law will encourage open communication between doctors and patients. Opponents, including trial attorneys, say the change will make it harder for patients to bring successful malpractice lawsuits.

Walker signs bill increasing college contributions

Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill that allows maximum contributions to a state college savings plan to increase based on inflation.

The bill Walker signed Tuesday also allows more people to contribute to the program.

The EdVest program currently allows parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles to make tax-deductible contributions to accounts to cover a child's college costs. The new law allows anyone, not just family members, to contribute to an account.

The new law also ties the current tax deduction for making a qualifying investment to the rate of inflation. Under previous law, qualifying contributions are eligible for a tax deduction up to $3,000 a year.

Walker signs bill giving schools more flexibility

Schools will no longer have to teach at least 180 days a year under a bill Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law.

The bill Walker signed Tuesday would allow schools to extend the length of their days to meet the required minimum number of hours schools must be teaching students every year.

But there would no longer be a requirement for schools to be open at least 180 days a year.

That would give schools flexibility to stay for longer hours, but for fewer days.

Rural schools support the change as a way of saving money by being open fewer days and avoiding higher transportation costs and other expenses.

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