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Same-sex marriage will cost Minnesota $678,000 a year, report finds

Posted by: under Minnesota legislature, State budgets Updated: May 5, 2013 - 2:02 PM

Legalizing same-sex marriage will eventually cost the state about $678,000 a year, a new report has found.

The new wrinkle will send a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage to another committee test in the Minnesota House on Monday. The measure could then go to the House floor in coming days.

Budget officials have determined the state would have to spend $688,000 each year to provide health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees. Those costs will be slightly offset by thousands of dollars in fees collected from gay couples getting marriage licenses in the state. In another twist, budget officials are banking on 86 same-sex couples getting a divorce in 2015 and collecting fees from those divorce filings.

The new costs will get a review by the House Ways and Means Committee 10 a.m. Monday.

The committee is comprised of a majority of Democrats, including some of the most outspoken supporters of same-sex marriage. The main sponsor of the measure, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, sits on the committee.

The marriage issue has been largely quiet all session. The movement in the final days of the legislative session does not signal its final passage is assured, said Michael Howard, a House spokesman.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he will not bring up the proposal for a floor vote until he is sure it has the votes. Thissen told the Star Tribune on Thursday that he personally would like to see same-sex marriage become law this year.

The Senate is believed to have a larger majority of votes to pass the measure.

Same-sex marriage is one of the most controversial issues of the legislative session, with members on either side anguishing over their vote. Advocates on both sides have been working frantically behind-the-scenes to persuade lawmakers to vote their way.

Freshman Rep. Jay McNamar, DFL-Elbow Lake, continues to wrestle with the issue.

The retired schoolteacher said on Friday that a neighbor on one side supports same-sex marriage and his other neighbor strongly opposes it. Both are former students.

McNamar said he will likely make up his mind on the issue the moment of the final vote.

Update: The anticipated marriage license revenue from same-sex couples was wrong in earlier version of this post and has been corrected. 
 

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