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Weddings, ag tourism and marijuana on Senate's agenda

Senate to take up numerous bills

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Senate is taking up bills related to weddings, marijuana and ag tourism when it meets Tuesday.

Senate passes bill exempting medical apologies

Doctors and other health care providers could apologize to patients without worrying about whether the statements could be used against them in court under a bill that has passed the Wisconsin Senate.

The Republican bill would make apologies, condolences or expressions of sympathy inadmissible in civil proceedings and in administrative hearings concerning the health care provider's actions.

Supporters argue the bill would encourage open communication between doctors and patients. Opponents, including trial attorneys, counter the change would make it harder for patients to bring successful malpractice lawsuits.

The Assembly passed the bill in February. The Senate passed it 19-14 on Tuesday, the last day of the two-year legislative session. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

Bill to legalize marijuana byproduct passes Senate

The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill to legalize the use of a marijuana byproduct to help relieve seizure disorders in children.

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass it.

The bill would allow only the use of cannabidiol, an oil extract, to be administered under the care of a doctor.

The Assembly approved the bill last week on a voice vote. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

He has not said whether he will sign the bill should it pass.

The measure falls far short of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, something the Republican-controlled Legislature has shown no interest in pursuing.

Bill passes that would set minimum age to officiate wedding

No one under age 18 could officiate a wedding in Wisconsin under a bill headed to Gov. Scott Walker.

The state Senate passed the bill on a voice vote Tuesday. It cleared the Assembly last month and is now headed to Gov. Scott Walker.

The bipartisan bill would set the age requirement while also making it easier for people from out of state to officiate, removing a requirement that out-of-state officials must obtain a letter from the church before the wedding.

Opponents of the measure have raised concerns about the minimum age requirement, saying it could prevent young family members from officiating weddings in some cases.

Senate approves payment for wrongful conviction

A man wrongfully convicted of homicide would get more money from the state of Wisconsin under a bill passed by the Senate.

Robert Lee Stinson was convicted in 1985 of killing a Milwaukee woman. A judge freed him in 2009 after the Wisconsin Innocence Project argued bite-mark analysis and DNA evidence didn't match evidence from the scene.

The state Claims Board in 2010 gave Stinson $25,000, which is the maximum allowed under state law. But is also recommended the state give him another $90,000.

The Senate passed a bill in November that would give Stinson $136,000. The Assembly scaled that back to $90,000 in March. The Senate approved the $90,000 payment on a unanimous vote Tuesday.

The bill now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

Senate passes ag tourism liability

Farmers wouldn't be financially liable for the death of someone participating in an agricultural tourism activity under a bill that has cleared the Wisconsin Senate.

Agricultural tourism is growing in popularity as farmers and others look for ways to diversify their operations to bring in more money.

The bill approved on a voice vote Tuesday would grant immunity if the tourist dies as a result of a risk inherent in the activity and the provider posts a sign giving notice about the potential risk.

Immunity would not be granted if the tourism provider fails to post the sign, acts with willful disregard for the participant's safety or intentionally causes the death.

The Assembly has passed the measure. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

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